GLATWG comments on Bike Parking

Green L.A. Transportation Work Group has recently been grappling with issues related to parking requirements and how they relate to affordable housing. Many of us (myself included) are generally Shoupistas – followers of Donald Shoup. In The High Cost of Free Parking, Shoup makes a convincing case that unjustifiedly high suburban parking requirements drive up the cost of housing.

For example: in L.A. a typical new housing unit (ie: a condominim in a multi-story building) 2.5 parking spaces, and each space costs $20,000-$50,000+ to build… so… the parking requirement adds  $50,000-$100,000+ to the cost of new home. Reducing this requirement effectively reduces the cost of housing. While developers may not pass this reduced cost savings on to occupants/owners… overall, reducing excessive parking requirements generally can get more housing built more cheaply, which, based on market forces (supply and demand) should reduce the cost of housing.

Recapping: less required parking leads to more affordable housing.

But there’s a catch… some of the city’s most effective mechanisms for building and preserving affordable housing are built on incentives that are based on those excessive parking requirements. Basically, when housing developers build affordable housing, the city allows the developer to build less parking (under what’s called the Density Bonus.) Additionally, in some cases, excessive parking requirements prevent owners from converting rent-stabilized apartments into condominiums.

So… if we’re not careful, moving towards more rational (reduced) parking requirements can actually result in developers chosing to build market rate housing, instead of affordable housing.

Currently working their way through various legislative process, there are three initiatives that include reducing car parking requirements:

  1. AB710 (California State Legislation)
  2. Modified Parking District Ordinance (City of Los Angeles CPC-2007-2216-CA)
  3. Bicycle Parking Requirements (City of Los Angeles CPC-2011-309-CA)   

There’s a lot of commenting and dialog on all three of these… and, generally, the most suburban NIMBY types are out in opposition to anything that will remove any of their god-given parking… but for now, I am just going to focus on #3 the Bicycle Parking Requirements.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Green L.A. Transportation Work Group’s Living Streets Campaign is hiring! The following is a 2-year position funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. It’s part of the county’s RENEW (Renew Environments for Nutrition, Exercise, and Wellness) initiative – which includes reducing obesity – by doing things like building places where people will walk and bike every day.

The project coordinator will work with the Community Redevelopment Agency, city, Metro, community groups, and residents to create complete streets projects in Boyle Heights. Applications due Friday May 7th! Full job announcement text below – or nicely formated pdf here.

Mariachis in Boyle Heights' Mariachi Plaza - photo from East L.A. Community Corporation website

JOB OPPORTUNITY

Title: Boyle Heights Living Streets Initiative

Job Description: Green LA Coalition (GLA) is seeking qualified candidates for the position of Project Coordinator for the Boyle Heights Living Streets Initiative. This position is funded throughthe Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s RENEW grant program and is expected to
run through March 2012.

Boyle Heights Living Streets Initiative: The Boyle Heights Living Streets Initiative will increase people’s ability to safely and pleasantly
cycle and walk in Boyle Heights by implementing 3 prototype Living Streets near the Mariachi Plaza and Soto Gold Line stations. Currently, City of Los Angeles’ standard street improvement projects do not give any special consideration to cyclists and pedestrians. This Initiative will take advantage
of the opportunity afforded by approximately $25 million allocated through various grants and funding programs to design and install street improvements near these Gold Line stations according to Living Streets principles. GLA is partnering with the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) to lay the groundwork for 3 prototype Living Streets designed with strong community participation. This Initiative will additionally develop a Blueprint document and pass necessary policies so that Living Streets can be replicated throughout the city. An inter-agency task force and community stakeholder task force will be created. For more information on Living Streets see http://livingstreetsla.wordpress.com/
The Coordinator will work in collaboration with the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, Green LA Transportation Work Group and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Ideal candidates will have a background in urban planning or design, civil engineering, public policy, or architecture/landscape architecture, experience in implementing public improvements, especially in the city of Los Angeles, experience in conducting outreach and community meetings in an area of cultural and demographic diversity, and familiarity with Boyle Heights. The position will be part of a broader policy picture aiming to improve the health/wellness and mobility for the City of Los Angeles.

Office Location: 1916 E. First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033

Duties and Responsibilities:
• Develop and pass policies to support the adoption and practice of Living Streets tenets in Boyle Heights and in Los Angeles in general
• Coordinate several existing and funded street improvement programs in Boyle Heights, with the goal of maximizing Living Streets qualities
• Enhance the level of community input in the street improvement programs by working with existing community groups as appropriate and/or forming a new organization for community stakeholders.
• Improve the community’s understanding of the Living Streets paradigm and related health, planning, and transportation issues
• Assist in conducting community meetings leading to conceptual plans for the 3 prototype streets.
• Coordinate the input of appropriate Los Angeles city departments to implement Living Streets tenets in the Boyle heights street improvement programs through participation in existing city
committees and/or forming a city working group for that purpose.
• Create a Living Streets Blueprint/how to guide for each prototype to document the various challenges and institutional barriers associated with implementing Living Streets and to highlight strategies to overcome such challenges and the solutions that were developed.
• Manage and administer the Boyle Heights Living Streets program reporting and evaluation.

Minimum Requirements:
• Graduation from an accredited 4-year college or university with a degree in Planning, Urban Design, Public Policy, Civil Engineering, Landscape Architecture or other related fields or equivalent experience.
• At least 2 years experience in community outreach, policy advocacy and/or planning and implementing public improvements programs in a large urban jurisdiction, and a total of 5 years professional work experience.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
• Flexible collaborator with leadership skills who values transparency
• Ability to effectively work with diverse interest groups to find consensus and move innovative ideas forward
• Out of the box, creative thinker
• Strong understanding and comprehension of the Complete Streets/Living Streets concepts
• Experience planning and implementing public improvements projects such as street improvements, recreational facilities, or public infrastructure. Experience with the City of Los Angeles is a plus.
• Excellent organizational skills. Strong attention to detail.
• Strong verbal and written communication skills.
• Proficient in Excel, PowerPoint, and Word
• Ability to establish priorities, work independently, and proceed with objectives without supervision.
• Strong ability to present and convey policy recommendations to a government policy making body such as: a City Council, Planning Commission, Transportation and Parking Commission.
• Strong ability to present and convey policy recommendations to the public who reside in a low income community of color.
• Willing to work on other tasks as it relates to the goals and objectives of this project.

Special Requirements:
• Passionate, articulate and well versed about creating livable urban places
• Willing to work evenings and weekends as required.
• Conversational Spanish language skills highly desired.
• Familiarity with Boyle Heights or similar communities highly desired.

All qualified applicants shall receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, ethnic group identification, ancestry, sex, age, condition of physical or mental handicap, or sexual orientation, in accordance with requirements of federal and State laws.

Salary Range: $60,000 to $65,000 annually with benefits, depending on experience/background.

Interested candidates please send cover letter and resume to:
Green LA Coalition
1000 North Alameda Street, Suite 240
Los Angeles, CA 90012
ATTN: Stephanie Taylor, Interim Managing Director
staylor [at] greenlacoalition.org

By: Friday, May 7, 2010

For More Information contact:
Stephanie Taylor, Interim Managing Director
staylor [at] greenlacoalition.org

Click logo to vote for cicLAvia - Vote every day March 2010

One of the campaigns that Green L.A. Transportation Working Group is pushing for this year is cicLAvia – a recurring car-free festival where pedestrians and bicyclists will take over L.A.’s streets.

CicLAvia is in the competition for grant funding from a well-know soft-drink company. To help steer the money to cicLAvia, you’re encouraged to go to this website and vote for cicLAvia. You can vote cicLAvia every day in March 2010, and the top five vote-getters win the grant funding.

Living Streets Tenets

30 September 2009

by Jen Petersen

In July, a GLATWG Complete Streets subgroup met to discuss how to move towards Los Angeles-specific implementation of the State of California’s Complete Streets Act of 2007/8. We decided that the first and most crucial step in this direction would be to define what we wanted ‘Complete Streets’ to mean, and to look like, given the contemporary state of streets in LA. And so we fashioned a list of tenets for what we dubbed Living Streets –because we wanted to specify that we don’t aim to complete our streets, which would imply that an objective completeness is possible–but to bring them alive, and invite them to a dynamic role in the life of our city.

The key proposition behind our tenets for Living Streets, is that by focusing on the basic mobility needs of people, rather than cars, we can make more efficient use of our City, retraining our streets as a healthy circulatory system for us, and begin to remedy some of the uninviting characteristics of life in Los Angeles. In other words, if we reapportion our abundant street space for people-scaled urban needs for closeness, beauty, and safety, we will pave the way for better residential and business development patterns that support high quality residential and commercial life.

Our ’10 Tenets for Living Streets’ follow.

10 Tenets for Living Streets Los Angeles

Overarching, supra-tenet:

**Our streets prioritize people, not automobiles**

1.) Living streets integrate income equity into their design and function.

2.) Living Streets are designed for people of all ages and physical abilities whether they walk, bicycle, ride transit, or drive.

3.) Living Streets integrate connectivity and traffic calming with pedestrian-oriented site and building design to create safe and inviting places.

4.) Living Streets connect people through:
* everyday interaction
* shared responsibility to street design and planning.

5.) Living Streets strengthen and enhance neighborhoods.

6.) Living Streets encourage active and healthy lifestyles.

7.) Living Streets integrate green management and conservation of water, energy, and plant life.

8.) Living Streets are inviting places–with engaging architecture, street furniture, landscaping, and public art.

9.) Living Streets foster healthy commerce.

10.) Living streets vary in character by neighborhood, density and function.

(Created by Aurisha, Deborah, Dorothy, Jen, Ryan on August 5, 2009)

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.)

Coalition for Clean Air's report: Getting to Work: Your clean air commute

Coalition for Clean Air's report: Getting to Work: Your clean air commute

Green L.A. Transportation Work Group participant (and more often than not host) Coalition for Clean Air has released its new report “Getting to work: Your clean air commute.” The report’s primary author is me, Joe Linton, co-chair of GLATWG.

The report highlights employer best practices for promoting clean air commuting, including: bicycling, carpooling, walking, vanpooling, telework, transit, and, of course, managing parking!

CCA’s Martin Schlageter and I presented the report at this morning’s meeting of the Los Angeles City Council’s Jobs, Business Growth and Tax Reform Committee.  The commitee’s agenda included Council Motion 08-3249, in which the city is looking to set strategies and thresholds for employers throughout L.A. to implement a menu of transportation demand management (TDM) strategies, including pre-tax transit benefits and parking cash-out. Speaking in favor of the council motion and clean air commuting were City Controller Wendy Greuel, Samuel Garrison of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and Jason Elias of the Service Employees International Union. The motion now goes to the full city council.

Here’s the power point presentation we gave today, the full report is available here.

Committee Chair Honorable Greig Smith, with Coalition for Clean Air's Joe Linton and Martin Schlageter

Committee Chair Honorable Greig Smith, with Coalition for Clean Air's Joe Linton and Martin Schlageter

This morning, Green L.A. Coalition had a meeting with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  Here’s the mayoral ask from the Transportation Work Group:

The City of Los Angeles has prioritized car traffic over other modes. This over-dependence on automobiles has resulted in many problems locally — from congestion, to smog, to obesity, to a rash of recent collisions resulting in pedestrian fatalities — and globally — from resource wars, to global warming. Continuing our imbalanced reliance on cars hurts Los Angeles economically, environmentally, and erodes our quality of life.

While there are some notable smaller-scale initiatives, mostly from the City Planning Department, the culture of LADOT continues to approach streets as if the only users are cars. There is a new paradigm emerging nationally for “Complete Streets” — streets that are shared by pedestrians, cyclists, transit, and cars.

Green L.A. Ask:

We urge the Mayor to move Los Angeles into the era of Complete Streets. There are four arenas where Mayoral action is necessary to make this vision a reality:

1. Adopt a Complete Streets policy, including reworking existing street standards.

2. Ensure that future city budgets reflect the city’s commitment to accommodating pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders, by dedicating more funds specifically for such modes. This includes dedicating local return funds from Measure R for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit services.

3. Use the Mayor’s leadership at Metro to emphasize Complete Streets regionally, including incorporating a Complete Streets policy in Metro’s Call for Projects, where pedestrian and bicycle projects need to be given more funding.

4. Direct deputy mayors for environment, transportation, and economic development to work together and meet with us on a regular basis to make Los Angeles streets livable, vibrant, environmentally-friendly and efficient for all.

The mayor responded affirmatively, though not necessarily committing to specifics.  He cited his leadership on Measure R,  pledged to keep Metro fares low, and stated his interest in a “more serious bicycle program.”  The mayor concluded with a call to the assembled environmental and environmental justice communities to “stand up more” so that our agenda can move forward and not get bogged down by the “retrenched group of folks who weigh in against everything we do.”

Environmental Deputy Mayor David Freeman followed.  Freeman was generally very good – refreshingly straightforward and emphasizing “actions that end up in results.”  He placed a lot of importance on climate change which he considers the most important issue facing us today.  He was generally supportive of bikes, but his interest, though, was more in getting cleaner/renewable energy and ultimately getting L.A.’s fleet of cars to be powered by renewable energy.

(For more information on GLATWG Complete Streets campaign, see older posts here, here, and here.)

Complete Streets image from New York (from L.A. StreetsBlog)

Complete Streets image from New York City (from L.A. StreetsBlog)

In late 2008, one of the priorities that the Green LA Transportation Working Group (GLATWG) identified was “complete streets.”  This blog entry is an attempt to draft what we might mean by complete streets, and what the policy implications/goals might be for complete streets for the city of Los Angeles.

What are Complete Streets?

Here’s a definition from the completestreets.org website (from the National Complete Streets Coalition):

“Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and bus riders of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street.”

There are similar definitions on Wikipedia, and on websites of other non-profits that are campaigning for them – for example, the Iowa Bicycle CoalitionGood magazine recently ran this interactive photo-simulation that does a great job of showing the Complete Streets concept.

Many states, cities and other municipalities have adopted various versions of complete streets policies (see listing of examples here.)  Cities that have adopted policies include Santa Barbara, CA and Colorado Springs, CO.  Some cities, such as Austin, TX have various principles and guidelines for their policies. Recently Complete Streets policy has gone into effect in the states of Hawaii (where it was adopted legislatively as SB718), and Delaware (where it was implemented via executive order from governor.)

The state of California adopted Complete Streets policy in 2008.  California’s policy was adopted legislatively as AB1358, authored by then-Assemblymember Mark Leno of San Francisco.  The state bill (per this press release) requires:

“…cities and counties to include complete streets policies as part of their general plans so that roadways are designed to safely accommodate all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders, children, older people, and disabled people, as well as motorists.”

The state mandate applies when a city updates its mobility/transportation element of its general plan.  The city of L.A. actually pretty good language in our General Plan Transportation Element.  Some examples from the existing city of Los Angeles transportation plan adopted in 1999:

“…reduction of vehicle trips, and through focusing growth in proximity to public transit.”
“Provide bicycle access in or near mixed use corridors, neighborhood districts, and community centers…”
“…maintain pedestrian-oriented environments…”

In my opinion, this plan language generally doesn’t get carried out when it comes to actual street design (with a few notable exceptions, for example the city Urban Design Studio’s Downtown Design Guidelines.)

Some of the language from governmental policies is a bit more formal, and allows a bit more wiggle room in its implementation.  For example, in the above-mentioned Delaware executive order, after stating that Delaware’s streets will accommodate all users, it goes on to qualify that:

“Ensure that any exemption to the Complete Streets Policy is specific and documented with supporting data that indicates the basis for the decision”

What would Complete Streets policy/outcome/goals look like for the city of Los Angeles? (ie: what are GLATWG’s goals for our complete streets campaign?)

This is where we need to hear from you.  GLATWG has suggested using complete streets as a way of framing our demands.  All of our campaigns – from bus-only lanes to parking reform to tracking modal share – can be seen as parts of a larger overall campaign.

Should GLATWG push for the city of Los Angeles to adopt an explicit Complete Streets policy?  Should it be done legislatively (via the City Council) or via executive order (via Mayor Villaraigosa)?  What should such a policy include?  How can we make it most effective?

If you have recommendations, ideas, examples, concerns, please add them to the comments on this post.  Please include links to sample policies, images, ideas, etc.  Thanks!

Next Green LA Transportation Working Group Meeting
Tuesday April 14th 2009 2:30pm-4:30pm
Note Different Start time
at Coalition for Clean Air, 811 W. 7th Street, Suite 1100, Los Angeles 90017
(at Metro Red/Blue Line 7th Street Station, bikes allowed inside building/elevator, paid car parking at Hope and 8th Street)

The Green LA Transportation Working Group meetings are open to organizations and individuals interested in promoting sustainable and equitable transportation in Los Angeles.  RSVP if possible to staylor {at} libertyhill.org (if you don’t RSVP, we might not bring enough copies of handouts for you.)

AGENDA

1)      2009/2010 Work Plan – Identify benchmarks and timelines

2)      City Budget

3)      Mayor’s Meeting Review and Confirm Accomplishment & Ask

4)      Presentation on Cicolvia in Los Angeles
(What’s a Ciclovia? Watch this.)

5)      Updates/Report Back
a.       Federal Stimulus
b.      Federal Reauthorization
c.       Metro Board – new members
d.      Measure R
e.      National Bike Conference

6)      Announcements

7)      Next meeting – Tuesday, May 12 – location and time