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damientalks's podcast

SGV Connect is Streetsblog Los Angeles' podcast that explores the people, places, projects and events that make up the changing face of transportation in the San Gabriel Valley. SGV Connect is hosted by Damien Newton and includes interviews by Brian Velez. This feed also hosts SGV Connect's predecessor podcast, #DamienTalks.
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Dec 18, 2018

Welcome to the penultimate episode of SGV Connect for 2019. Today, we look at the road projects funded by Metro replacing the shelved 710 tunnel project and welcome new Bike SGV Executive Director David Diaz. Diaz, who was already something of a regular on SGV Connect, will be guiding the organization as it widens its umbrella under a new brand "Active SGV" in the New Year.

For the discussion on Metro's road follies in the east San Gabriel Valley we interview Bryn Lindblad, the Deputy Director at Climate Resolve and a member of Metro's Sustainability Committee. As one might expect, Lindblad is not happy with a project list that encourages more driving, even if it is better than digging a giant freeway tunnel.

As mentioned above, we have one more episode left before the New Year, but we appreciate everything listen, comment, like and retweet. If you're not with us next week, we wanted to wish you all a happy new year.

#SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunesGoogle Play, or Overcast.

Dec 5, 2018

This week's SGV Connect features an update on construction plans for Phase II of the Gold Line Foothill Extension and a discussion of two recent reports on Global Warming. 

First, Kris Fortin interviews Habib Balian, the executive director of the Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority. Recently, the Authority has been in the news because of changes to their construction plans and schedules. You can read more about the changes at the Inland Valley Bulletin or Bloomberg News.

Then Damien Newton interviews Streetsblog California editor Melanie Curry. Last week, Curry wrote about a state report that illustrates how California is failing to meet its own Greenhouse Gas emission goals. The primary culprit? Too much driving. Newton and Curry discuss the state of climate advocacy in California and what individual choices everyone can make to help reduce the impacts of the global climate crisis.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.” 

Nov 28, 2018

Wow. November went by quickly.

Welcome to another episode of SGV Connect. This week we're looking at both new bike infrastructure on the way in Arcadia and recapping some local changes in Alhambra's City Council that could lead to some progressive change.

First, Kris interviews Phil Wray, the Deputy  Development Services Director / City Engineer for the City of Arcadia. The City of Arcadia is working on a grant funded, citywide Bicycle Facility Improvements project which includes bike lanes, routes, bicycle friendly intersections, and bike racks throughout the City. The bulk of the nearly $1.5 million project is coming from the state's Active Transportation Program, with about a third coming from Metro and a local match.

Then, Damien talks to Ron Sahu, an environmental engineer tht has been a key part of the movement to open up the City of Alhambra's government to make it more transparent and responsive. The group was able to win two of the three City Council elections because of its grassroots efforts.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.” 

Nov 1, 2018

If you haven't voted yet, be sure to check out this week's edition of SGV Connect. Our usual co-hosts, Damien and Kris, are joined by Joe Linton and Estuardo Mazariegos to discuss Measure W and ballot Propositions 6 and 10.

Proposition 6 would repeal a portion of the gas tax passed a couple of years ago. The tax mostly funds repairs to the state's transportation infrastructure, with a portion going to transit operations as well. Streetsblog LA urges voters to oppose the proposition and support transportation funding.

Measure W is a parcel tax that would raise $300 million for projects to detain and clean runoff water; projects would emphasize green, nature-based, multi-benefit projects. Full disclosure, Streetsblog LA is urging voters to Vote Yes on W.

Proposition 10 revokes the "Costa Hawkins" Act which restricts municipalities' ability to impose rent control regulations. Streetsblog has no official position on this, although as you can tell from the interview, much of our staff support the proposition.

If you didn't apply for a "vote by mail" ballot, Kris discusses some of the ways that agencies and businesses are providing free trips on election day, from ride-share companies to L.A. Metro.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.” 

Foothill Transit is not responsible, nor were they consulted, for the content of this podcast.

Oct 10, 2018

This week's SGV Connect features and interview by Kris Fortin of Bike SGV director Wes Reutimann. The two discuss the progress the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments have made implementing their plan for a series of connected Greenways, a sort of "bicycle freeway system" in the SGV. A couple of years back, I talked with the executive director of the COG, but now some of the projects are moving from paper to reality.

Then, Damien talks with Misch Anderson of the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition (PCSC). PCSC has compiled a calendar of walking events to celebrate Walktober 2018 featuring partnerships with the Jaycees, the City of Pasadena, local schools and more. We talk about some of the highlights of the week, including a rare walking tour of the Glenarm Power Plant.

SGV Connect will be back in a couple of weeks with an election preview. Until then, you can send any thoughts, concerns or questions to me at damien@streetsblog.org.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Sep 28, 2018

Welcome back to SGV Connect.

In this episode, we discuss some of the proposals for the North Hollywood to Pasadena transit corridor, a sixteen mile proposed bus rapid transit connector. Metro is beginning outreach to solicit feedback before the design process kicks off for this important connection between the SFV and the SGV. Click here for information on next week's meetings in Glendale (Oct. 1) and Pasadena (Oct. 3)

After that, we discuss Proposition 10 with Estuardo Mazariegos, a community activist who is part of the team working to make housing more affordable and plentiful in California. Mazariegos explains why he's been working to support Prop. 10, on the ballot in next month's state elections. For more on Proposition 10, visit the official Yes on 10 and No on 10 websites.

We're also trying to make our podcast a little more interesting to people who might not be interested in whatever topics we have for our interviews for a given podcast. Be sure to check download for a brief review of this week's CicLAvia in Downtown Los Angeles with a reminder about impacts on Foothill Transit service. Kris also previews an upcoming story on the end of the Metro Bikes bikeshare program in Pasadena.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Sep 18, 2018

Welcome to a special podcast from Streetsblog California. Former SBLA and SBCAL editor Damien Newton interviews Elise Roy. Roy will be the opening speaker at this year's PEDS COUNT 2018 summit by California Walks.

Roy is the founder of a consulting firm by the same name that specializes in helping designers understand how people with disabilities and other excluded communities experience the world. This process leads to better design of streets, better design of buildings buildings and, well, better design of everything else.

PEDS COUNT is the fifth summit programmed by California Walks and attracts advocates, academics and civil servants to two day event that is part conference and part call to action. This year's summit will be in San Jose on October 18-19. If you want more information, or to register, please visit the summit website at the California Walks homepage.

If you'd like to hear more about Elise Roy, she's also been featured on a TED Talk, that you can watch by clicking here.

Sep 12, 2018

This Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pride of the Valley Open Streets presented by Metro Los Angeles will open up 5 miles of streets for the public to enjoy on foot, skate, bike, or other mode of active transportation inBaldwin Park and Irwindale. The open streets party will link Morgan Park to the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area, and will feature a range of activities including live music, arts activations, and family-friendly games.

This week, Kris Fortin talks to Vanessa Carbajal, the Program Coordinator at City of Baldwin Park. Carbajal goes into the challenges of planning a multi-jurisdictional open streets event and previews the attractions and programs that will make Pride of the Valley a memorable Sunday.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Aug 22, 2018
In Monterey Park, the city council narrowly passed a plan to improve bicycle and pedestrian access throughout the city. In this week's SGV Connect, Kris Fortin talks to Henry Low about the state of play for bicycle advocacy in the city and its next steps. Low, a member of the Monterey Park Unified School District Board, also discusses what role schools can take in creating healthier communities with improved access to public space.
 
Later, Damien Newton talks to Streetsblog California editor Melanie Curry about the ballot proposition that would repeal a recently enacted state gas tax. The funds raised would be used to repair roads and highways as well as improve transit throughout the state. However, the tax has become a political football, and Republicans are hoping to use it to score some electoral wins in November.
 
Coming Next Month: a preview of Pride of the Valley Open Streets event.
 
SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”
 

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunesGoogle Play, or Overcast.

Aug 9, 2018
Welcome back to SGV Connect. In today's episode, our co-hosts conduct two interviews on the expansion of the Foothill Transit bus fleet and the arrival of open space funds in L.A. County.
 
First, Kris Fortin follows up on the news (LAT, SGV Tribune) that Foothill Transit is adding double-decker buses to their commuter fleet. Foothill Transit continues to diversify its fleet and is on track to meet their goal of having an entirely electric e-bus fleet by 2030.
 
Then Damien Newton talk with Scott Chan, a community activist and director with the Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement about Measure A, passed by voters in 2016 to bring more funding for open space to L.A. County communities. The money raised by the tax is beginning to flow to communities, and Chan tells us how you can get involved in making sure those funds are spent properly.
 
SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”
Jul 3, 2018

This week, SGV Connect looks at Bike SGV's Bike Friendly Business Program with a two-part interview.

First, we talk with Danielle Zamora, outreach coordinator for Bike SGV, who oversees the Bike Friendly Business program. Zamora outlines how business corridors are selected for this program, how outreach is done to businesses, what must be done by a business to qualify, and what the benefits of joining the program are.

Then we interview Michelle Hammond, the owner of The Munch Company (Instagram, Facebook) in South Pasadena. The Munch Company is a gourmet sandwich shop with vegan and vegetarian options. The Munch Company was an early member of the Bike Friendly Business Program, and Bike SGV promoted a ride to their shop last week.

A programming note, this is the last podcast I'll be doing solo. We did a couple of joint podcasts with Kris before he went on vacation and I followed in June. Now we're back at full strength and looking forward to the second half of the year.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

May 27, 2018

With Kris Fortin still touring Japan, last week Damien spoke with Lisa Grater, the Transportation and Parking manager for the City of La Verne. The University of La Verne is a “Silver” level bike-friendly campus for its efforts to support student and staff bicyclists with traditional and some out-of-the-box thinking.

One program that has enjoyed success is the campus’ bike library program. Students can check out bicycles from the university’s transportation department for short-term borrowing at no cost. The library program, which now has nearly two dozen bicycles, has grown at the same time that the campus launched a bike share program. Different systems for different user needs, Grater explains.

Grater also credits the relationship between the University and the City of La Verne for the campus’ success creating a bike-friendly atmosphere. For example, the two worked together on creating and manning ‘pit stops’ on Bike to Work Day earlier this month and city officials and Councilmembers visited the one on La Verne’s campus.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

May 15, 2018

o you have strong feelings about the re-opening of the Walnut Creek Wash bike and pedestrian trail? Are you concerned about providing safe passage to school for West Covina’s children?

Tonight, the West Covina City Council will meet to discuss the city’s proposed active transportation plan. At a meeting earlier this month, the Council voted to postpone the discussion and vote on the plan after public comment tilted against the plan’s road diet proposals and concern about safety along a currently-closed bike trail along the Walnut Creek Wash. For coverage of that meeting, read this story in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

SGV Connect talks to long-time resident and public health expert Claudia Goytia. Goytia assures that the Council is not anti-bike and has a history of doing long deliberations before approving or opposing staff recommendations. However, she believes that the Council should hear from residents and other stakeholders who support improving the city’s transportation infrastructure. You can email the city manager at Chris.Freeland@westcovina.org.

If you want to attend and testify, the meeting will be tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the West Covina City Council Chambers, 1444 W. Garvey Avenue. You can read the full agenda for the meeting, here.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

May 1, 2018

This week on SGV Connect, we go back to Pasadena to check-in with Greg Gunther. A lot has happened since we last talked, just a couple of weeks ago as anti-road diet forces rallying behind the banner of Keep Pasadena Moving stormed a community meeting on a proposed road diet for Orange Grove Boulevard.

Gunther explains how the Union Street Protected Bike Lane Project is different than the propose Orange Grove Blvd. project. Gunther also urges everyone to attend next Wednesday's meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. For more information, visit the city's website, or listen to our podcast.

In addition to the road diets and protected bike lane stories, we also discuss Metro's bike share system in Pasadena. Metro is considering moving some of the Metro Bike stations in Pasadena to be more effective and is looking for community feedback. You can answer their online survey, by clicking here.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Apr 26, 2018

As we inch closer to "Bike Month," Bike SGV has some fun ways you can connect with local advocates in a laid back and educational format. Throughout May, Bike SGV will be hosting a series of fun events such as the Bike-In Movie Night (May 3) and the Birds and Bikes of SGV Ride (May 12).

But before one can join a group ride, they have to know how to actually ride a bike. Kris Fortin and Andrew Yip discuss the new Bicycle Education Safety Training (BEST) classes being offered in conjunction with Metro. The classes run from basic classes for new cyclists to experienced bicyclists who just want a refresher. A list of all the classes being offered throughout LA County, including those by Bike SGV, can be found here.

We'll be back next week with a look at the politics surrounding road diets and progressive street design in Pasadena. Talk to you then.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Apr 20, 2018

I am very excited to introduce the new co-host of SGV Connect, Kris Fortin! If Kris' name seems familiar to you and you're not sure why, it's because he has a long history with Streetsblog as the former reporter for Boyle Heights on Streetsblog Los Angeles and the current reporter for Orange County for Streetsblog California. In between, he served as a reporter based in Santa Ana for the Orange County Register.

For those of you that don't know Kris, this is a great "get to know you" podcast that talks a little about his personal and his professional opinion. Now that you know what he looks like, and know he'll be at CicLAvia this Sunday. If you see him, say "hi."

If you want more Kris, you can find all his stories for Streetsblog here, his super-popular story on the Ovarian Psycos Bicycle Brigade here, and a profile on Kris that appeared on Bike SGV's Tumblr earlier this week here.

 

On a personal note, I think regular listeners to this podcast know the tragic reasons we're looking for a new co-host, and may have noticed our output dropped a little at the end of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. When I heard Kris had moved back to Alhambra, I was excited to know I might have the chance to work with a co-host that I knew, trusted and liked. I love doing this podcast and love hearing from everyone that listens, but it's been hard these past six months and I'll never forget Brian. But I'm excited to start our next chapter, and I know that Kris and I will be able to build on the work that Brian and I started.

Mar 19, 2018

This week, SGV Connect talks with Scott Chan, the program director for the Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement, and a longtime advocate for safe streets in Alhambra.

Our conversation starts with discussing the state of bike planning in Alhambra, a city that commissioned but never approved a bike plan a decade ago. However, given the lack of strong planning in the document, Chan believes the city did the right thing. There's no time like the present for the city to consider changing course and creating and packing a new bike plan in the near future.

We also discuss the state of "710 corridor planning" for the city now that the 710 tunnel project in the San Gabriel Valley is likely never going to happen. However, the city has some funds, and access to more through regional specific grants, to improve mobility in the area. Some outside the box thinking could lead to big changes in a short time.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Mar 7, 2018

It's been a couple of years since we last checked in with Greg Gunther, a safe streets advocate in Pasadena. While progress on installing the Playhouse District parklets has stalled, Pasadena is moving forward on some other projects.

Most notably is the Orange Grove Boulevard Road Diet (official website, here) a plan to turn one of Pasadena's most historic streets into one that best serves the community instead of cut-through traffic looking for an alternative to the 210. The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition is encouraging the city to approve a road diet plan for the street. You can get involved by emailing the City Council, by clicking here.

We also discussed a plan to improve the Rose Bowl Loop to improve conditions for all users. One of my first big stories was covering a wonderful car-free evening in the Rose Bowl loop in the pre-CicLAvia era. It was a wonderful night, and I've always wondered why more wasn't done to make the loop a more safe and attractive place to ride a bicycle or push a stroller.

SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Feb 20, 2018

Monterey Park is a hillside suburban city in the San Gabriel Valley, 7 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles. The city boasts a population of 60,269 people and will soon also be home to a protected bike lane for 1.6 miles on Monterey Park Pass as part of a complete street project. We talk about the project in the podcast, but if you want to read more about it, check out Joe Linton's coverage from January.

Today SGV Connect speaks with Thomas Wong, a resident and activist in Monterey Park who served on the city's environmental commission and currently sits on the Board of the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District. Our discussion covers the road diet, other bicycle and pedestrian planning, what the city might do with Metro funds from the 710 Corridor congestion alleviation plan, and the state of transit in the City of Monterey Park.

This episode marks the first in a series that we will be producing that takes a deeper look into the cities of the San Gabriel Valley. A second edition will be coming in early March.

SBLA San Gabriel Valley coverage is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Jan 17, 2018

In just about two hours, the Metro Board of Directors Parking Committee will meet to discuss a major update to the agency's parking policies. This policy, if passed in committee and the full Board of Directors next Thursday, would dictate how parking, both car and bicycle, would be allocated at future Gold Line Foothill Stations.

Today, we talk with Wes Reutimann about the need to increase bike parking at the future stations and some of the politics around parking policy. At most of the Foothill stations that opened in 2016, bike parking remains oversubscribed; leading Bike SGV and others to call for more parking at future stations.

The meeting begins today at 2 p.m. in Metro HQ in Downtown Los Angeles. We'll post an update after the meeting's over and details on next week's meeting.

#SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunesGoogle Play, or Overcast.

Dec 21, 2017

In today's Ask the Editor podcast, Streetsblog contributors Damien Newton, Melanie Curry, Jason Islas, and Kristopher Fortin talk about some of the main stories Streetsblog California covered in 2016.

But we didn't get very far, because there are so many stories to talk about. Streetsblog California covers statewide issues, which tend to be policy-focused and wonky, but we also cover local stories that reflect the influence of those policies on the ground. Right now we have Kris Fortin covering Orange County, and Minerva Perez reports on local issues in the Central Valley. We'd like to be able to cover local stories all over the state, to help local advocacy efforts learn from each other, but we are limited in our capacity, both in time and manpower. Womanpower. Peoplepower.

Which brings us to the reminder that these podcasts are also fundraisers. Please click here to donate to Streetsblog California to support unique coverage of the issues you care about.

Those issues include the gas tax bill, S.B. 1. In the podcast, we talk about how this long-overdue gas tax increase raises money for needed infrastructure maintenance. Over the last year we reported on how the bill got passed and what the final bill ended up including. We followed up with reporting on how state agencies in charge of transportation funding have been formulating guidelines to spend the money wisely and, we hope, not just on building new roads that will mean more needed maintenance in the future (and won't solve congestion). Here, we also touch on the effort to repeal the bill, which would be a giant step backwards.

See the S.B. 1 website, here, which is the state's first move towards advertising the benefits coming from the gas tax: “Your Tax Dollars At Work.”

We also talk about the Active Transportation Program, which got a shot in the arm from S.B. 1—doubling funding for the program over the next ten years—and which in turn is kind of a poster child for the state to show immediate results from S.B. 1. And that brings its own complications, including the possibility that not-so-great projects could get funding just because they do something for bikes or pedestrians, rather than create a true transformation in the way planning for active transportation happens.

As Melanie points out in the podcast, transformational change is a slow process, but in California, it is going in the right direction. Sometimes.

Finally, we attempt to answer one of the questions we got from readers in response to our previous podcasts. This question was related to S.B. 1. Getting Around Sac asked: how much of the state's road projects are paid for by state gas taxes? And the answer is: we don't know, and we're not sure anyone else has pinned down the answer. That's because the state's transportation funding system is complex beyond belief, even without the so-called gas tax swap that will eventually be repealed by S.B. 1.

Here's a link to some Caltrans charts that explain it in less than three hours.

But to the question: even with the new, higher taxes, state gas taxes probably don't cover a much larger portion of road charges than they did in 2015, when it was about 25 percent. In that year, more than half of all transportation spending was from local tax measures, many of which are sales taxes.

Which means, to answer an unstated but underlying question: no, roads are still not paid for mostly by gas taxes.

Here are some references for people who like to delve into the complexities of transportation funding. A Legislative Analyst Office report here describes S.B. 1 in some detail. And here's a report that takes apart the “user pays” myth of gas taxes.

And remember to donate to Streetsblog California so we can continue to study and write about these issues and future ones, statewide and local.

Dec 20, 2017

Believe it or not, here at Streetsblog we prefer to cover good news. That doesn't mean we wear Rose Colored Glasses all the time. Rather, when something happens to improve our transportation networks or how people experience their community; we like to write about it.

Which is one reason that yesterday and today's podcasts are so much fun, because when it comes to transportation reform in the San Gabriel Valley there is a lot to celebrate.

Today, I talk with Wes Reutimann of Bike SGV and Joe Linton of Streetsblog Los Angeles. We talk a lot about the 626 and how awesome it was. But we also talk about road diets, protected bike lanes and e-buses. There's a lot of good things happening locally, and it's nice to take a moment and reflect on the some of the highlights of 2017.

#SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Catch past episodes of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn, iTunesGoogle Play, or Overcast.

Dec 19, 2017

As the year begins to wind down, SGV Connect will broadcast twice this week to look back at some of the biggest stories in the San Gabriel Valley this year.

Today, we talk to Felicia Friesema with Foothill Transit and Albert Ho with the Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority.

For Foothill Transit, we discuss their recent fare and service changes as well as the march towards electrifying their bus fleet.

For the Construction Authority, we review the march to the groundbreaking of Phase II of the Gold Line Foothill Extension and review the timeline to bring Phase II online sometime in the not-so-distant future.

A little later this week we'll continue the conversation with Joe Linton, the editor of Streetsblog Los Angeles and Wes Reutimann with Bike SGV.

#SGV Connect is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Dec 15, 2017

Welcome to the third podcast in our end-of-year-fundraising series in which we address questions from you, our readers, about almost anything you want to know.

Today our editors Damien Newton, Jason Islas, Melanie Curry, and Kristopher Fortin answer a few ringers in some perhaps unexpected ways. Damien thinks we may have gone off the rails a bit, but it all comes together to make some sense in the end.

We addressed a question from Kathleen Ferrier, who asks: 

(block quote) What are the top three strategies for countering inflammatory NIMBYism? What have you seen work?

Jason, who has had plenty of experience in his advocacy work with Santa Monica Next, thinks the first strategy is to get rid of labels. Our answers, in brief: pay attention, don't assume, and be human. While “Not In My Backyard” knee-jerk opposition to efforts to fix things is definitely a problem, it doesn't always stem from the reasons you might suspect, and you have to listen to find out what underlies people's objections to change.

Our second question is kind of related, in that it demands a human response. Jeff Tumlin asks:

Why don’t we talk more about the neuroscience of mobility? Like how being stuck in congestion triggers our fight-or-flight responses, shutting down the prefrontal cortex of the brain and reducing our ability to think through the consequences of our actions? Or why hopping on a bike can bring simple joy, and trigger the biological precursors of social trust?

Listen in to hear how we think this should play out—and to hear about what might or might not have been a response to last week's podcast about sidewalks.

And don't forget that we are asking for donations to keep Streetsblog California alive and well into the next year. Please support our work by clicking here and donating today.

Do you have a question you want us to talk about? Submit it in the comments below, or by email to melanie [at] streetsblog.org, or tweet them @streetsblogcal

Support journalism that covers the issues you want to know about. Streetsblog California reports on issues few media outlets cover, and we can't do it without you. Click here to donate today.

 
Dec 8, 2017

Today, the editors at Streetsblog California bring you the second podcast in our “Ask the Editor” series, in which we attempt to answer readers' questions about whatever you want to ask.

This podcast series is part of our year-end fundraising effort to keep informing you, our readers, about local and statewide policymaking, funding, and laws affecting your transportation options. Please consider supporting our work by clicking here and donating today. Who else, we ask you, could bring you a podcast dedicated to: sidewalks?

That's right, today's podcast addresses several questions we received from readers about sidewalks, a crucial part of our transportation system that is frequently ignored and almost always under-appreciated. At some point, everybody is a pedestrian, and everyone is affected by the presence—or absence—as well as the condition of walkways wherever they're headed.

“Why don't sidewalks get all the love they deserve?” asked our friends at Los Angeles Walks. We agree that sidewalks are not given the attention we need them to have. How much love do they deserve? Plenty!

Reader Getting Around Sac also asked why California law makes property owners responsible for maintaining sidewalks, which are part of the public right of way. It's true that's what the law says—and also that it changes from place to place. Some cities split costs with homeowners; some use parcel taxes, or require new owners to make needed repairs at the time of purchase. Los Angeles, for one, has its own complicated relationship with sidewalk repair rules, and some there don't think Vision Zero safety efforts have anything to do with sidewalk repair needs.

We learned a little bit about the history of the sidewalk law—it was created during the Great Depression, when cities had no money to build or maintain anything. The question sent us off on a discussion of equity and liability, and then right back to our first question, because nobody seems to want to take responsibility for sidewalks.

Do you have a question you want us to talk about? Submit it in the comments below, or by email to melanie [at] streetsblog.org, or tweet them @streetsblogcal

Support journalism that covers the issues you want to know about. Streetsblog California reports on issues few media outlets cover, and we can't do it without you. Click here to donate today.

 

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