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Patch Position Papers: Jan Perry - Transportation

Patch Position Papers are an opportunity for Los Angeles mayoral candidates to weigh in on subjects important to city residents. They have been prepared as background for the "Talking About Los Angeles" series of conversations.

Patch: How would you use walking, bike share, car share, shuttles buses and trains to increase mobility in Los Angeles?

Jan Perry: Our public transportation planning is mostly done at a regional level (SCAG, MTA) and we have to integrate local mobility plans in our city Community Plans. Land use planning and transportation planning cannot happen in two different systems and it is important that we integrate this process to one city plan. We can no longer put an emphasis on the automobile. We have to create incentives for people to get out of their cars and use public transit and other modes to get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ and beyond. In order for this to happen, people need to feel safe and it needs to be convenient for them to travel without an automobile. Local mobility planning has to be viewed as to how people travel within a 5 mile radius. This is not solely north-south or east-west but how do we move northeast or southeast. This requires an expansion of our Dash system in neighborhoods. It also means we must integrate our bicycle routes and pedestrian pathways in way that is safe and convenient.

Our reality is that the environment and the cost of using automobiles mandate that we get out of our cars and change our thinking that the automobile is an absolute necessity. Los Angeles is not alone when it comes to traffic congestion and it will not get better unless we can integrate local mobility plans (shuttles, bikes and pedestrian walkways) with our regional transportation system (rail and buses and freeways).

It is not just job housing balance but continuing to expand our housing next to transit corridors and enhancing the activity on those corridors. How and where I do my shopping and what cleaners do I use are choices we make. In public transit-dependant communities it includes how do I get my child to the doctor or get to work on the late night shift. Our future requires us to enhance our public transit system and make it convenient and safe. In this region there’s no greater activity center than Los Angeles and local mobility plans must be priority.

Our Dash system needs to be expanded on weekends and evenings taking into account that more and more of our citizens will not be using automobiles, and will be dependant on our public transportation system. Our environment cannot sustain the unlimited growth of the automobile culture and our economy cannot afford for the auto to be a necessity. Public transportation and non-auto mobility is a must and through better planning and a shifting of our priorities we can work in this direction.

The city has begun working to update transportation planning and for the first time it is looking at alternative modes of transportation other than the car, like bike and local transit. This is a five-year process but will help create better planning blueprint city-wide.

Patch: How would you raise federal, state and local general funds to pave streets andsidewalks so they’re safe for bikes and pedestrians?

Jan Perry: Our current funding formulas (Gas Tax) are generating about 15 percent of the funding we need to maintain our street paving infrastructure. This has resulted in a deferral of maintenance of our streets in such a way that many have to be reconstructed. The prioritizing of filling potholes over street paving is a reflection of this reality. I don’t believe we are getting our fair share of transportation dollars from the federal government and state of California. We are consuming the gas and paying the Tax so we must lobby for our fair share and demand that the formulas for funding be more reflective of demand and use.

Our Prop C funding and Prop A funding are running out and this will have a major impact on our ability to fund capital projects as well as public transit alternatives. The voters clearly prioritized transportation infrastructure work by voting for Prop R. Revenue from Prop R will not be enough. We as a city have to find additional funding. We are currently looking at parking revenues and parking tax to sustain the general fund. This funding source should be solely used for transportation needs (parking, street paving, and local mobility). We can identify a percentage of this funding for purposes of cash flow and bond it to generate revenue for street paving.

Our sidewalks are not safe and must be repaired but the general fund revenue cannot fund the repair of sidewalks. The federal dollars are minimal and cannot meet the demands of ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act]. Now we need to recognize that smooth sidewalks and clean sidewalks add to the value of the properties they serve. This is why we need to work on partnerships with the business and residents to fix the sidewalks. The street lighting assessment districts we use for lighting our streets could be used for landscaping and sidewalks and the cost spread to all the property owners in the district.

We should also look at our street sidewalk standards because in many cases the problem is not the tree but it’s the sidewalks. It might make sense to save the tree and change the sidewalk configuration.

The new pilot green bike lanes on Spring Street and Main Street in downtown Los Angeles are up and running. These are important east-west corridors that connect major transit to downtown's major employment centers. The success of programs like this will encourage expansion. I am hopeful that this will be one important area where we find success.

Patch: How important to you is the quick development of transit to connect the east and west sides?

Jan Perry: Los Angeles is a city of 3,900,000 people living on 470 sq miles of land in a region of 13 million people. Our transit system includes 27 inter winding freeways handling millions of drivers on a daily basis. Our rail system is growing. The Red Line subway system is not complete to the west side. Our oldest rail system the Blue Line takes us from downtown to Long Beach. The addition of the Gold Line from East Pasadena to East Los Angeles has shown the need to expand to their additional phases. The Orange Line in the Valley demonstrated the merits of a fixed Bus Line as an alternative to rail. All these systems bring our city together.

Once the EXPO line opens to Santa Monica in 2015 and the Crenshaw Line to the Airport in 2016 they will be important alternatives to sitting in traffic for our daily commutes. These rail projects are real. We are the most car populated metropolis in the world with one registered vehicle for every 1.8 persons living in our region.

We must complete these systems offer the clean alternative to car use and connect ourcommunities.

Patch: Are there other major transportation infrastructure projects you would make a priority?

Jan Perry: The 710 extension and the widening of the 405 come to mind. We must complete the widening of the 405 in that it is the most congested freeway in the nation. The extension of the 710 freeway is important to the movement of cargo for the nation. The air quality and the impact of emissions on the surrounding communities from standing trucks make these projects major priorities. Community interests must be weighed in any discussion regarding projects of this magnitude.

The Downtown connector will finally link the Gold, Blue, EXPO and Red Lines as well as provide additional stations in the downtown community. This will make downtown movement and access to activity centers more convenient.

MTA's pilot congestion management plan for toll lanes on the 10 freeway east and 110 freeway south on corridors whose capacity allows for toll lanes as well as car pool lanes will tell us whether Angelenos are ready to pay more to use our transit system and whether it will really help with congestion at peak use hours. The parking management pricing plan for downtown will manage parking according to demand whether it be in a parking lot or parking meter and facilitate the locating of available parking.

These are only a few transportation projects that directly impact the City of Los Angeles and the quality of life for Angelenos. We are the center of the region and carry the economies of not only this region but also the state and the nation. The impact on the environment is tremendous and we are behind on the mitigation measures but we are moving to deal with these impacts with systems that are creating choices for mobility with greater consideration for the environment.

Patch: Many students are discouraged by transportation options in Los Angeles. What will you do to keep talented students in the city by expanding transit to job centers through shuttles, buses, mobility hubs, etc?

Jan Perry: We need to expand and subsidize neighborhood serving transit like the DASH system to provide connections for students and for the work force. And neighborhood serving alternatives like bike paths as well. There is also a trend toward locating major university services in areas like downtown Los Angeles. UCLA has done this and I can see the value going forward of expanding this option for people that cannot manage long distance commutes and that carry other work related responsibilities while attending school.

One recent development in downtown LA is the relocation of businesses to the city core because of the availability of public transportation alternatives and affordable housing. Understanding the need for a jobs housing balance along with the development of alternative modes of transportation appeals to young people. That is good planning and something we must continue to develop.

Patch: What is your view of the current Mayor’s 30/10 transit plan?

Jan Perry: I support the mayor's 30/10 plan. We must comply with the voter approved designated projects. It allows us to create jobs now and fund much needed transportation projects.

Patch: What are your ideas for ending parking pressures that lead to things like theapron-parking in Westside and Silver Lake neighborhoods?

Jan Perry: Households in the city continue to have a large number of cars. The city needs more parking structures and parking lots in business areas to relieve parking in adjacent neighborhoods. The question of converting lots that are zoned for residential uses is controversial. It is very difficult to find parking in areas like Venice and Silver Lake business districts that have expanded in recent years.

This is a value debate for the people living in these neighborhoods and adjacent to activity centers and business districts. Many areas of the city have instituted permit parking for residents as a way to relieve the need for apron parking. This can produce its own conflicts of interest residential vs. business interests. Again local mobility alternatives from parking lots and structures to business districts can help.

Patch: Last year, several incidents showed weakness in security at L.A. Metro stations. We know the County Sheriff polices the trains, but what are your ideas for improving public safety on them?

Jan Perry: I understand that the public should expect and wants safe transit on trains and buses and that when you know that your kids are using public transit you want them to be safe. The use of cameras on public transit and at transit stations can be an effective deterrent. I believe that is a program that should be expanded. Addition of more security personnel on the trains will ultimately be reflected in the cost of transit. Police and enforcement agencies needs to be well coordinated to maximize security presence at Metro stations, on our subway and buses.

Patch: One of the ways the Mayor influences transit is through his appointments to boards of agencies like the MTA and DOT. What criteria would you use to make those appointments, and what would be your priorities?

Jan Perry: Geographic representation and perspective along with time and individual has to serve on the MTA is important as there is a lot of work involved in being an effective commissioner. I would be an active member of the board. I have served for several years on the Exposition Light Rail Construction Authority and can take that incredibly valuable experience with me. The City of LA will always be fighting a majority vote on the MTA Board making it necessary to build coalitions for transit planning. We need a strong representative base for city interests to see that transportation formulas are fair for all public transit uses, bus to fixed rail to local transit connectors like the DASH.

I value experience in the areas of urban and transit planning and infrastructure development. If we are going to create higher density living near major transit hubs then an individual with a solid background in either legislation for transportation projects with budget experience, and experience in building transit systems along with individuals with experience in designing transportation systems at all levels in urban areas is important. Our systems need better linkages to move people in and around areas like downtown Los Angeles, and other densely populated high use activity centers like the west side. It is important that there is a balanced approach to how we spend transportation dollars going forward. Establishing priorities and a plan for success in the area of transportation takes experience, knowledge and effective planning. I will look for individuals who will examine our existing systems at the local and regional level to address the most significant needs in those systems.

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