At our August Green L.A. Transportation Work Group meeting, Executive Director of Move L.A. Denny Zane made a presentation about the proposed National Infrastructure Development Bank. This is a proposed federal bank that would be able to loan money to agencies at a reduced rate – allowing local dollars to be spent sooner and to go further. This could help transportation projects (locally especially those funded by Measure R) and ultimately could also be open to fronting other infrastructure dollars for things like stormwater, libraries, parks, etc.

Right now it’s a federal bill HR2521 the “National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2009” introduced by Congressmember Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. Reportedly soon to be introduced in the U.S. Senate, too. Locally, Metro endorsed it on June 23rd (It’s item 63 on page 20 here, but more helpful is their 3-page analysis of HR2521,) but, at least as of a few weeks ago, no Southern California legislators had signed on.

Denny circulated copies of this 5-page summary of the NIDBA bill. Move L.A. is requesting organizations to sign on to the letter below which will be copied to California’s senators and L.A.’s representatives. If your organization is intersted in signing on to this letter, please email dennyzane [at] movela.org

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro
3rd Congressional District
New Haven, Connecticut

Dear Congresswoman DeLauro:

The undersigned organizations deeply appreciate the strong leadership you have displayed in the development and introduction of HR 2521, a bill that would create a National Infrastructure Development Bank.  We endorse this bill and will encourage our members and our communities to support the bill as well. 

HR 2521 is landmark legislation that will play, we believe, a very significant role in our nation’s effort, and in the efforts of countless communities, to address significant deficiencies and remedy long term deterioration and decay in our nation’s transportation and other vital systems.
 
HR 2521 would fund and create a bank that would direct public and private dollars toward infrastructure projects of national or regional significance.  A similar proposal was included in the Obama Administration’s Budget released earlier this year.  Like the proposal in the Obama Budget, HR 2521 would capitalize the bank at a rate of $5 billion for five years and would provide the Bank with $250 billion in total subscribed capital and $625 billion in total loan making capability. 

We believe that a properly capitalized infrastructure bank as proposed in HR 2521 could be used to accelerate major transportation projects in Los Angeles County, and other communities, by providing loans secured by Measure R funds, a recently approved ½ cent sales tax increase for transportation projects approved by more than 2/3 of Los Angeles County voters last November.  Measure R will provide a revenue stream of up to $40 billion over 30 years, nearly 70% of which will be used for public transit infrastructure and operations.

NIDB  loans secured by Measure R funds could enable LA County to accelerate the development of many voter approved transit and highway projects, thereby reducing their development costs, creating good new jobs quickly, and jump starting economic recovery while energizing our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

The undersigned, therefore, endorse:

• H.R. 2521,  to create a National Infrastructure Development Bank as introduced by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

Further, to enable this program to better fulfill its mission, we urge that:

• NIDB loans be available not only for project-specific applications, but also for multi-project infrastructure programs backed by broad-based revenue streams, e.g., locally approved taxes; and that,

• Congress authorize interest-forgiveness on NIDB loans for projects that significantly advance national economic development or environmental goals, such as zero-GHG-emission transit projects, like electric transit, powered by zero-emission renewable energy resources.

Thank you for your leadership and for your time and attention.

Sincerely

Denny Zane
Executive Director
Move LA  
  
CC: 
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Diane Feinstein 
Members, Los Angeles County Delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives

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Taxi Drivers Rally!

Taxi Drivers Rally!

I got a chance to drop by the Taxi Workers Alliance rally this morning at Los Angeles City Hall. The Taxi Workers are a participant in the Green L.A. Transportation Working Group (GLATWG.) A healthy transportation system includes a broad range of traveller choices, and taxis are one important option. Urbanist Gordon Price, in a talk in Los Angeles last year, stated that a resilient transportation system includes the possibility of taking a car and paying “by the trip” – including taxis and car-sharing.

The first thing I saw as I bicycled in was a ring of taxis slowly circling the block where city hall is located:

Taxi Procession Down First Street

Taxi Procession Down First Street

Taxis had signs posted on them with slogans including “ALTO A LA FRANQUISIA DE ESCAVITUD” [stop the franchise slavery,] “WHY NO TRANSPARENCY?” and more. There were dozens of taxis stretching the entire circumference of the block. Taxi supporters were gathered on the south lawn, urging the drivers on. I pulled up and took my place in the supportive crowd. I caught up with city transportation commissioner and GLATWG advisor Malcolm Carson and Woodrow and Tammy from the Bus Riders Union (also a GLATWG participant – we nearly had a quorum – [note: we don’t actually do the quorum thing yet at GLATWG… we probably should?])

The drivers circled a while, then parked, and held a rally on the steps of city hall. Among their demands are that they city end the system of “sweatshops on wheels,” and that the city issue medallions (permits to operate a cab) only to actual active full-time drivers.

I confess to not being completely up to speed on all these issues… but it does seem pretty clear to me that our city regulations (including things like dress codes for drivers) hinder our taxi system from being effective and equitable. There’s a lot more L.A. taxi issue information available in this 2006 report entitled Sweatshops on Wheels.

Unfortunately I had to leave early to get to a lunch meeting… but I was glad to add my voice briefly in support of these workers and their campaign.

Taxi Workers Alliance at the City Hall Steps

Taxi Workers Alliance at the City Hall Steps

Reseda Boulevard where the Bike Lanes currently end at Kittridge Street - from Bing Maps

Reseda Boulevard where the Bike Lanes currently end at Kittridge Street - from Bing Maps (North is to the left, Reseda Park is on the upper right, the L.A. River runs vertically through the middle) - (update 8/19/2009: this is where they appeared to end on the aerials in Bing Maps which may be slightly out of date... but when I biked there today, the ground truth is that they end a couple blocks north of this photo - at Vanowen Street.)

Here is a letter that I sent today to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) general manager Rita Robinson, and copied to the mayor and various councilmembers. Though I’ve identified myself as the co-chair of the Green L.A. Transportation Work Group (GLATWG,) this represents my opinion, not necessarily a consensus position decided by the entire GLATWG.

15 August 2009

Rita Robinson, General Manager
Los Angeles Department of Transportation
100 S. Main St., 10th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dear Rita Robinson:

I want to bring to your attention what I think is a sad breach of the public trust made by your staff.

In June 2009, LADOT’s Paul Meshkin reported in writing to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (LABAC) that approved bicycle lanes on Reseda Boulevard had been canceled because LADOT’s West Valley District planned “peak hour lane usage in near future.” The written plan for peak hour lanes was subsequently confirmed in a July phone conversation between LABAC chair Glenn Bailey and LADOT’s Ken Firoozmand.

Subsequently, in July and August 2009, your staff, including Ken Firoozmand, Bruce Gilman, and Carolyn Jackson denied that LADOT had plans for peak hour lanes for Reseda Boulevard. These LADOT staff stated that the LADOT plan for peak lanes was a “rumor” and that it was “not propagated” by LADOT.

It doesn’t surprise me that LADOT would favor a peak lane plan that would increase capacity for cars, indeed this is LADOT’s job and what LADOT has historically successfully focused on. What surprises me is that LADOT staff lied. Governmental agencies depend on the trust of the public to make our city work. When LADOT staff deny something that LADOT staff have already put in writing, this duplicity damages the public trust and makes it difficult for all of us to work together in the future.

I urge you to work with your staff to be honest, clear and transparent and to rebuild the public trust that their actions have strained. I also urge you to immediately implement the long-delayed bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard.

Sincerely,

Joe Linton
Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee appointee for CD13
Green Los Angeles Transportation Working Group, Co-Chair
[street address], Los Angeles, CA 90004

Attachments: documentation of quotes herein.
cc: Mayor Villaraigosa, Councilmembers Garcetti, Rosendahl, Smith, and Zine

Attachments include:
1. LADOT’s June 2009 Bike Lane Projects Status – see item 8.
2. LAist’s August 13 2009 article: LADOT Says They’re Caught in Rumor Mill about Eliminating Bicycle Lanes

(FYI to blog readers: for some more background on this, see also L.A. Streetsblog and Biking in L.A.)

Green L.A. Coalition Transportation Work Group meets later today (mark your calendars – we meet from 2pm-4pm the second Tuesday of each month):

Tuesday, August 11th
2PM
Coalition for Clean Air
(811 West 7th Street, Ste. 1100, LA 90017) (in Downtown Los Angeles, above Metro Red and Blue Lines’ 7th Street Station)
 
Revised Draft Agenda
 
1. Complete Streets (Update and Planning, 30 minutes)
2. Metro Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) Board Meeting Update (quick, 5 minutes)
3. Meeting with Deputy Mayor de la Vega (discussion, 15 minutes)
4. Bus Only Lane updates (Bus Riders Union, 20 minutes)
5. SB 375 – Beth Steckler/Climate Plan update (quick presentation, discussion 20 minutes)
6. Parking Policy (update, 5 minutes)
7. Park(ing) Day (quick discussion, 10 minutes)
8. National Infratsructure Bank (update, 5 minutes)