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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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Now displaying: 2017
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.

 

Dec 1, 2017

Streetsblog Editors Tackle Your Questions

Welcome to the first podcast in our Ask the Editor series, in which the editors at Streetsblog California attempt to tackle your questions about almost anything you want to know. Today we discuss three of the questions we've received from our readers. Next week we will talk about more of them.

You can still submit questions either by emailing them to melanie@streetsblog.org or tweeting them @streetsblogcal

By the way, this is also a fundraiser. Yes, in this podcast we attempt to show how lovable we are, and how deserving of your support, because it's not enough that Streetsblog California brings you news about sustainable transportation that few other outlets report on. We also want you to know that we're kinda fun. And, it seems, a little bit wonky, if this podcast is anything to judge by.

Please consider supporting to our work to bring you information about local and statewide policymaking, funding, and laws affecting your transportation options by clicking here and donating today. [LINK]

You will hear Kris Fortin, our reporter in Orange County; Melanie Curry, editor of Streetsblog California and fearless explainer of wonky topics; Damien Newton, founding editor of Streetsblog LA and director of the Southern California Streets Initiative, which oversees all the Streetsblogs in California; and Jason Islas, Editor of Santa Monica Next and associate director of SCSI.

In this inaugural podcast, we tackle three questions from readers and supporters. We were hoping for softballs, but you, dear readers, sent in some doozies. Or maybe we just like to talk too much.

The first question was from our friend Pedal Love, who asks: “I believe that car crashes are the number one cause of preventable death in youth under 21—am I correct?”

Yes, it turns out to be so—for youth ages 15 to 24, the most common cause of preventable death, according to the Center for Disease Controls, is car crashes. And they are the fifth most common cause of preventable death for people age 0 to 14. 

The question is, why? Does it go up at age fifteen because that is when people start navigating traffic on their own? Maybe it has to do with the dearth of driver education in California, or the ease with which even inexperienced drivers obtain drivers' licenses. There's a lot to unpack here.

The second question came from Marvin Norman, a regular reader and a member of the Streetsblog California steering committee. “When,” asks Norman, “will the VW Electrify America money start to show up in projects on the ground?”

Damien tells us that the $2 billion settlement agreement between VW, the federal government and several states—with California, whose regulators caught VW cheating diesel emissions tests, at the forefront—is already on the ground in other states, and “coming soon” to California. A timeline, here [PDF], shows electric charging stations being planned and built by the end of 2018, and an electric car-share program being developed for a 2019 launch.

On the ground: 
https://electrek.co/2017/07/10/vw-ev-charging-network-electrify-america/

coming soon: 
https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/vw_info/vsi/vw-zevinvest/documents/california_zev_investment_plan_supplement_062917.pdf

The third question was from Jeffrey Tumlin, planner at Nelson\Nygaard, first leader and formulator of the Oakland Department of Transportation, and also a Streetsblog California steering committee member. His question was about congestion, and why we can't seem to solve it although we throw so much money at it.

Transportation investments have a powerful effect on public health, land value, social equity, economic opportunity, CO2 emissions, air quality, and other values. But no transportation capital project has ever succeeded in reducing congestion – at best, all infrastructure does is congestion chokepoints around. Why in California do congestion metrics remain central to most transportation funding formulas and performance analyses? If California thinks of itself as a global leader, why don’t we learn from other countries in doing more sophisticated business case analyses to ensure good outcomes from our transportation tax dollars?

A quick summary of the ensuing discussion, which does it no justice: because habit, inertia, lack of understanding of or belief in the concept of “induced demand,” political expediency, and funding. 

But there is some hope. California is finally in the process of changing rules to require new developments to measure and report on how much vehicle traffic they produce instead of just how much congestion they produce. [LINK] 

And the new gas tax will fund several programs that could help shift the focus away from just congestion. The Congested Corridors program, for example, will—if it's done right—invest in figuring out how to move people through congested corridors, not just cars. That program is set for adoption at the next California Transportation Commission meeting on December 6, so cross your fingers (or contact a commissioner).

http://www.catc.ca.gov/programs/SB_1/103017_SCC_Draft_Guidelines.pdf

http://www.catc.ca.gov/ctcstaff/members.htm


Listen to the podcast, and please consider donating to Streetsblog California.

Nov 28, 2017

Two weeks ago, SGV Connect spoke with Doug Strange about the role advocates can play bringing positive change to their communities. Today, we speak with Justine Garcia, the Transportation Program Analyst for the City of Glendora about how progressive transportation planners working in small cities can bring about big changes.

For her work, Garcia is being honored by Bike SGV at the 2017 “Noche de las Luminarias.” This annual party will include tacos, games of skill and chance, a special stocking-stuffer-silent-auction and raffle to benefit Bike SGV. The event will be on Saturday December 2, 2017, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Jeff Seymour Family Center at 10900 Mulhall Street in El Monte. For more information, visit the event page at Bike SGV.

Get a preview of the party by listening to today’s podcast where Garcia discusses everything going on in Glendora, and how stakeholders can get involved in some of the changes that will be occurring.

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 14, 2017

Doug Strange started an Internet chat group to talk about bicycling issues in the city of La Verne. Out of that group, the La Verne Bicycle Coalition reformed, to push for better laws and projects in a city, that in Strange's view has "zero bicycle infrastructure."

For his work in La Verne, Strange is being honored by Bike SGV for his advocacy at the 2017 "Noche de las Luminarias." This annual  party will include tacos, games of skill and chance, a special stocking-stuffer-silent-auction and raffle to benefit Bike SGV. The event will be Saturday December 2, 2017 (3:30-5:30pm) at the Jeff Seymour Family Center (10900 Mulhall St., El Monte 91731). For more information, visit the event page at Bike SGV here.

Get a preview of the party by listening to today's podcast where Strange discusses the state of infrastructure and advocacy in La Verne and how a group of excited activists can make a difference in their city or community.

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.

Oct 24, 2017

Still mourning the unexpected loss of Brian Velez, this week SGV Connect picks up one of Velez's story ideas and runs with it: what happens to Foothill Transit buses between shifts; and what happens to items left behind on the bus (or on the bike rack) by riders.

SGV Connect talks with Roland Cordero of Foothill Transit to talk about the daily maintenance of the buses and Foothill Transit's Lost and Found. If you've stumbled on this article because you lost something on Foothill Transit, just click here to go to Foothill Transit's official fact sheet for lost items.

Cordero was also a guest last year, when we discussed Foothill Transit's e-bus program shortly after the rollout of the first electric-only bus line.

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.
Oct 11, 2017

As many of you know, a couple of weeks ago our friend and my co-host Brian Velez passed away peacefully in his sleep. Brian was a great partner in this venture and I miss him both personally and professionally.

 

About a week after his passing, I reached out to some friends with Bike SGV to see if someone wanted to share some stories with our listeners. Edward Duong shares a story with us from outreach for the 626 that I’ll read at the end of the podcast.

 

But first, I was honored to have a chance to interview Diane Velez, Brian’s sister and co-worker at Bike SGV. She shares some stories from their lives together growing up and we discuss how that informed his work with us and with Bike SGV.

 

There’s a couple of ways that Bike SGV and the Velez family are honoring Brian going forward.

 

A slow-paced memorial ride in Brian’s memory will be held on Sunday October 15th.

• What: Brian Velez Memorial Ride

• Where: Chalan Rest Stop on the San Gabriel River Path (Where San Gabriel River Path crosses Arrow Highway; see map link below)

• When: Sunday October 15 (5:00pm)

• Route: Chalan Rest Stop to Azusa River Wilderness Park and back. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/tVowWDsRZm12

The Velez family is creating a Brian Velez Scholarship Fund to honor his service to the community and give back to other young leaders. If you wish to donate in Brian’s name, you can do so in the following manners:

• Check: Please make checks out to “Diane Velez” and mail to: BikeSGV, 10900 Mulhall St., El Monte 91731.

Paypal: Via velezdiane@gmail.com

• Venmo: @Diane-Velez

 

RIP Brian, we all miss you very much.

Aug 31, 2017

This week, Damien talks with Frank Ching, the Senior Director, Parking Management for Metro about the early feedback and impacts of the new parking program at the El Monte Bus Station. Earlier this week, Metro began charging $2 for parking at the Bus Station to riders' TAP accounts as a way to make certain that those parking in the lot were actually doing so to use the bus service.

The early impact shows that the program is working, the need for an overflow lot has vanished and at least anecdotally there has been little change to ridership. This experience mirrors what has happened when fully subsidized parking is replaced with a fee-based system in other Metro lots.

In today's podcast Ching not only discusses the program in El Monte and rail stations across the county, but also the future of the program and any near-term tweaks that could be coming to the parking plan at the El Monte Bus Station.

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.”

Whole Foothill Transit is mentioned in this podcast, they were not involved in the content for the podcast in any way.

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

Aug 17, 2017

This week, Brian Velez talks to a pair of horse riders in the San Gabriel Valley about their experiences, challenges and all of the reasons to choose riding a horse as their preferred form of transportation. 

The first interview is with Alejandra from Avocado Heights. A horse owner, Alejandra tells stories and outlines the costs of owning, caring for and riding a horse both in terms of money and time.

The second interview is with Deputy Hector Beltran, with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office. Deputy Beltran tells stories from his time as a horse owner, including a sad tale of a horse's death after being spooked by a driver. He also explains some of the rules and regulations for owners and riders in L.A. County.

This is one of our longer interviews, the podcast runs nearly a half hour and we do our best to only lightly edit for brevity.

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 episode of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn and iTunes.

Aug 9, 2017

Nisei Week is an annual festival put on by the Nisei Week Foundation in Downtown Los Angeles' Little Tokyo District. The nine day festival features everything from a parade, to a film festival to a competitive eating competition with pretty much everything else in between. A full schedule of events can be found on Nisei Week's official website.

Today, #DamienTalks with idori Mizuhara with Community Arts Resources and Cory Hayashi with the Nisei Week Foundation about this year's festival which begins at the end of next week. Hayashi does a great job of briefly laying out the history of the event and highlighting some of his favorite parts of this year's festival. 

Mizuhara works on the Go Little Tokyo campaign with Metro and the Little Tokyo Neighborhood Council. This campaign is designed to help the community thrive during construction of the Regional Connector in the area and to preserve the cultural events, and places that help make Little Tokyo a unique place to live, work and visit. The campaign, is working to provide transportation options beyond the car for people visiting the festival. Read more about that effort at Go Little Tokyo's campaign website.

A quick programming note, we are not going back to the #DamienTalks format for our podcast in the San Gabriel Valley. #SGVConnect will return in the next week or two with the promised podcast on mobility for horse riders.

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored podcast that Metro pitched to us and agreed to sponsor. No discussion was made as to any editorial comments made by me nor did Metro receive any questions from me ahead of time. If you would like to sponsor a podcast, email me at damien@streetsblog.org)

Aug 4, 2017

After watching bike share systems come to neighboring cities of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Long Beach and others; in July it was Pasadena's turn to launch its own bike share system. Shortly after the launch, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (COG) earned a grant to expand bike share to 14 other cities throughout the valley.

Today, SGV Connect's Damien Newton talks with Streetsblog Los Angeles editor Joe Linton and the Pasadena Complete Street Coalition's Blair Miller. Miller is also a member of the City of Pasadena's Transportation Advisory Committee.

In our conversation, we discuss the rollout of bike share in Pasadena and how the system is working and being perceived. From there we transition to a discussion of the regional network of Metro bikes and other systems before talking about future bike share systems that will be coming to cities throughout the San Gabriel Valley thanks to the state grant received by the COG.

"Bike share is an exciting opportunity because we hope it will get more people out and riding," Miller concludes. "I hope that Los Angeles, Pasadena and other cities in the San Gabriel Valley can keep going in the direction their going to get more people out and riding."

Towards the end of the discussion, Linton mentions an upcoming piece by Streetsblog L.A.'s Sahra Sulaiman that looks at some of the equity issues (pricing, location) that surround bike share in Los Angeles and throughout the world. He hopes that the COG's plans take reporting on these issues seriously to insure that bike share is a system that works for as large a group of riders as possible. 

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 episode of SGV Connect and #DamienTalks on LibSyn and iTunes.

 

UP NEXT : Horses!

Jul 13, 2017

Every now and then, one of our interviews turns up some breaking news. The 6 stations that will be part of the next Foothill Gold Line Extension will have twice the bicycle parking as the six stations opened last year. Much of that increased parking will be in the form of "bike rooms" similar to the bike hub currently opened at the El Monte Bus Terminal.

While final details and designs on the rooms are not yet available, much of the rest of the station design will be unveiled at a series of public open houses tonight. Staff will be on hand to answer questions. Models of the station and samples of the local art will also be on hand.

Today, SGV Connect talks with Albert Ho, with the Foothill Gold Line Extension's media relations team about the meetings and of course about the bike parking.

Here's a full list of the upcoming meetings:

Thursday, July 13
San Dimas Senior/Community Center
201 E. Bonita Avenue
San Dimas, CA 91773

Tuesday, July 18
Palomares Park Community Center
499 E. Arrow Highway
Pomona, CA 91767

Wednesday, July 19
Montclair Senior Center
5111 Benito Street
Montclair, CA 91763

Monday, July 24
Alexander Hughes Community Center
1700 Danbury Road
Claremont, CA 91711

Thursday, August 3
Hillcrest Retirement Community
2705 Mountain View Drive
La Verne, CA 91750

Monday, August 7
Glendora Library, Bidwell Forum
140 S. Glendora Avenue
Glendora, CA 91741

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.”

Jun 28, 2017

Welcome to the latest episode of SGV Connect, Streetsblog Los Angeles’ podcast covering the San Gabriel Valley, featuring hosts Damien Newton and Brian Velez. SGV Connect’s new episode includes a series of interviews conducted by Brian Velez on the pending report by the U.S. Department of the Interior examining whether or not previous administrations followed proper procedure in creating national monuments.

A National Monument is a place of historic, scenic, or scientific interest set aside for preservation usually by presidential proclamation. The San Gabriel Valley National Monument covers 342,177 acres of the Angeles National Forest and 4,002 acres of neighboring San Bernardino National Forest.

Velez interviews Congressmember Judy Chu and Los Angeles resident Roderick Burr, two supporters of keeping the San Gabriel Mountains Monument as it is. He also speaks with Glendora City Councilmember Judy Nelson, who opposed parts of the designation of the monument in 2014 but currently has a more supportive view.

A final report, due in August, could decide whether or not Trump challenges the National Monument designation made by the previous administration. In the meantime, there is a lot of waiting, and a lot of unease, from supporters of the monument.

#DamienTalks 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.”

Jun 2, 2017

Welcome to the first episode of SGV Connect, the podcast formerly known as #DamienTalksSGV, covering the issues, places, people and events that impact mobility in the San Gabriel Valley.

In this week's episode, Damien Newton interviews Habib Balian, the CEO of the Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority. Following a successful meeting earlier this week for potential contractors for construction, it seemed a good time to check back in on the next extension of the Gold Line.

The Foothill Gold Line from Glendora to Montclair will extend the Metro Gold Line 12.3 miles and add stations in the cities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont, and Montclair. Ground breaking will be this October, but construction won't be complete until 2025.

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 23, 2017

Duarte Mayor John Fasana has been earning a lot of positive press based on his efforts to finally end the 710 Big Dig Tunnel Project. In the meantime, the City of Duarte has been making strides to embrace a more progressive vision for transportation inside its own borders.

Today, #DamienTalks with Brian Velez, who conducted a series of interviews with people riding bicycles, residents of the city and the Duarte City Manager about the impact of recently installed bicycle lanes on Duarte Road. The lanes were installed as part of the city's effort to build out its Bike Master Plan, passed by the city in the end of 2015.

For more information on bicycling in Duarte, you can get information from the Bike SGV webpage: Information on bicycle master plan, information on the current state of bicycling in Duarte, and recent news on how the SGV Greenways plan impacts the future of bicycling in the city.

#DamienTalks 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 17, 2017

Today, #DamienTalks with Jose Jimenez, the education director for Bike SGV. Late last month, Bike SGV and its partners, the City of El Monte, Day One, and the Honorable Daniel Lopez of the Los Angeles Superior Court in El Monte, launched Los Angeles County's first "traffic school program for people on bikes."

For the car-free amongst us, violators of traffic laws who are driving a car can often get the penalties reduced by going to "traffic school". The Bike SGV Website does a great job explaining the program :

For BikeSGV and Day One, launching the program in a high-need, lower-income community like El Monte was particularly important as the monetary cost of a violation on a bicycle is generally the same as when driving a motor vehicle. With court fees this means a stop sign violation can cost around $200 and a red light violation more than $400, significant sums, especially for low-income individuals and families who are most likely to rely on bicycling for everyday transportation.

We go into much greater detail in today's talk, so make sure to check it out.

#DamienTalks 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 21, 2017

As anyone who reads Streetsblog or The Source or who follows the pace of rail expansion in Los Angeles knows, today is the "retirement party" for Harriet, the tunnel boring machine that has been drilling about a mile of tunnel for the Crenshaw Line.

Today, #DamienTalks with Anthony Crump, the Constructions Relations Manager for the Crenshaw Line Construction Project. In a wide ranging conversation, we touch on Metro's commitment to bicycle and pedestrian access to stations, upcoming plans for Crenshaw Construction and an update on whether or not the line is scheduled to open on-time in the fall/winter of 2018 (It is!)

And of course, we wish a fond farewell to Harriett. As she is the property of the construction company and not Metro, we cannot say as to her long-term fate. However, we all wish her well in "retirement."

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored podcast that Metro pitched to us and agreed to sponsor. No discussion was made as to any editorial comments made by me nor did Metro receive any questions from me ahead of time. If you would like to sponsor a podcast, email me at damien@streetsblog.org)

Apr 14, 2017

Rounding out our coverage of the Foothill Transit fare and route changes #DamienTalks #BrianTalks with three Foothill Passenger riders about how the changes would impact their lives. Spoiler : people don't like having their transit fares increased. However, most of the riders that Brian talked to, regular commuters, could actually see a decrease in their monthly pass from $70 to $50 if they choose to buy monthly instead of trip-by-trip.

Earlier this week, #DamienTalks hosted Foothill Transit's Felicia Friesema to give an overview of the changes. Yesterday, Joe Linton reported on a hearing he went to on Wednesday night.

Before we get to the three interviews, Damien has a short editorial reminding people that fare increases and service changes don't happen because transit agencies are mean, but because they don't get the support from state and federal governments that similar agencies do in other parts of the world. By all means, let Foothill Transit know what you think, but don't stop there. Let your state legislator, your Congressman, President Trump and Governor Brown know too.

To weigh-in on the changes, the easiest way is to email Foothill Transit at changes@FoothillTransit.org. Find out more about the proposed changes at Foothill Transit website or attend one of the remaining hearings, listed below.

#DamienTalks 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.”

  • April 18, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Pomona Library, 625 S. Garey Ave, Pomona, CA 91766.
  • April 20, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., El Monte City Hall East, 11333 Valley Blvd., El Monte, CA 91731
  • April 22, 9 a.m. (official public hearing), Foothill Transit offices, 100 S. Vincent Ave., West Covina, CA 91790.
Apr 11, 2017

Today, #DamienTalks with Felicia Friesema with Foothill Transit about the changes staff has proposed for the fare structure and bus service offered by Foothill Transit. Our talk covers an overview of the changes, the response from Foothill Transit riders, and a handful of questions submitted by you, Streetsblog readers.

Late last month, Foothill Transit announced plans for its bus service to react to ridership changes caused by the opening of the first phase of the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Last week, its Board of Directors approved taking the changes to the public through a series of hearings before a Board vote later this spring.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune has broken down the largest changes, including segmenting Line 187, that currently runs from Pasadena to Montclair. The change will allow Foothill Transit to focus on more local service on the new Line 187 (Pasadena to Azusa) and Line 188 (Azusa to Montclair).

If you want a chance to weigh-in on the changes, the easiest way is to email Foothill Transit at changes@FoothillTransit.org You can read more about the changes at the website and you can meet with them at the remaining hearings, listed below the podcast.

#DamienTalks 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 21, 2017

This week, #DamienTalks with Monica Curiel of Bike SGV about the upcoming bicyclists and pedestrian counts happening throughout the San Gabriel Valley on April 1. Bike SGV is looking for volunteers to help with the counts, and if you want to volunteer, you can get more information by visiting Bike SGV website.

In Part II, Brian Velez is back, and he interviews three past (and future?) volunteers.

Irma Bustamante is one volunteer who collects data who then turns it over to Anthony William-Contrado who enters the data into a system. Both volunteers believe that their communities deserve more than what is given when it comes to safe street design.

“I see it not so much as giving my time. This is something I’m passionate about. I grew up in El Monte, and there’s too many cars,” replied Irma.

Next up, Brian talks to Danielle Zamora in North Whittier. Danielle also believes that bike counts are an important part of improving communities, “We want to make streets in general safer for everyone so people have access to active transportation and can be healthier.”

Just a reminder, all the information you need to sign up and help can be found here, at the Bike SGV Website.

#DamienTalks 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, 2017

You know we’ve got a great episode of #DamienTalks when a woman who is eight months pregnant and running a half-marathon is the fourth interview in the podcast.

Today, #DamienTalks looks back at last Sunday’s mammoth open streets event, the 626 in the San Gabriel Valley. #DamienTalks with Joe Linton, the first staff person for open streets super-group CicLAvia, and Brian Velez of BikeSGV. Later, we podcast five interviews Velez conducted with people enjoying the 626 in the sun and rain last Sunday.

To call the 626 a success would be an understatement. Even with the rain, the event attracted roughly 100,000 participants. They biked, jogged, walked, or rolled the seventeen miles of car-free streets along a route that was roughly parallel to the Gold Line Foothill Extension that opened last year.

For more coverage of the event, visit this open thread from Streetsblog yesterday, or check out these stories on ABC7 and in the SGV Tribune and South Pasadena Review.

#DamienTalks 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 23, 2017

Listeners are going to see some major changes in the podcast in the coming weeks and months. We’re happy to announce the first of those changes today.

Today, #DamienTalks with Brian Velez. You may know Brian as a staff member at BikeSGV. Brian is going to be joining this podcast as a correspondent, helping to round out our podcast with a series of “person-on-the-street” interviews to either supplement or anchor stories that we’ve been working on.

Of course, #DamienTalks is a lousy name for a podcast that has a lot more people talking than just Damien. A change in the name and logo will be coming in the near future as well.

But for today, welcome to the team Brian! Damien and Brian talk about Brian’s history, some of the things they plan to work on together, and of course, with March 5 looming just around the corner, they talk about the 626.

#DamienTalks 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.”

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