Tue, May

Can Mitch and Joe Pass the Street Repair Bond Without the Westside?


ALPERN AT LARGE - (This CityWatch article is dedicated to Nan Schneider, an outgoing Westchester activist who, with her husband Denny Schneider, has fought for years for responsible and environmentally-friendly LAX modernization and a light rail connection to Westchester to best serve the needs of its residents.  Unfortunately, she recently passed away after a long battle with cancer--and both the LA City Council and County Board of Supervisors closed their meetings last Tuesday in memoriam of her passing. 

God Bless, Nan and Denny, and your service, spirit and goals aren't forgotten!) 


With that in mind, it should be noted that the same two City Councilmembers who just voted in committee to approve extending LAX northwards into Westchester, and virtually shutting down Lincoln and Sepulveda Blvds. for years (which are virtually western extensions of the 405 freeway), are the same two individuals who want to convince us that homeowners and landowners should fund a $3 billion bond measure to repair LA's broken streets. 

I'm referring to Councilmembers Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino who, by and large, I particularly like--but believe they're hurting themselves and their constituents and their City with respect to an unnecessary, cost-ineffective and environmentally-harmful LAX expansion. 

While their proposed bond/revenue-raising measure is certainly more meritorious, and less nebulous, than the recently-failed Proposition A (Herb Wesson/Antonio Villaraigosa-supported half-cent sales tax), the arguments are easy to come up with to oppose this new bond measure: 

1) Will this money be spent appropriately?


2) Will this money be spent in the same districts where the funds were raised?


3) Isn't this already supposed to be budgeted, and where is that money going?


4) Is it fair to rely only on homeowners and landowners to fund a program that will benefit all Angelenos and commuters who work in the City of the Angels? 

So it should be noted that Englander, who represents much of the San Fernando Valley, and Joe Buscaino, who represents the Harbor/Wilmington/San Pedro portion of our City are--despite pursuing an initiative with neighborhood council input--asking for a measure that will hurt those already suffering from both high taxes and high traffic volumes. 

The LAX modernization issue WAS not, IS not, and WILL not, ever be just a few Westchester NIMBY's versus a LAX that is seeking the greater good of the City and County of Los Angeles.   

The entire Westside has, overwhelmingly and with very few exceptions, opposed Alternative 1 (which Englander and Buscaino just voted to approve) and favored Alternative 2 (modernization without expansion and Lincoln/Sepulveda Blvd. disruption and virtual shutdown). 

Yes, the speakers from the Chambers of Commerce and unions (who, unlike the rest of us, are let out of work, are bused to and have all day to go to daytime meetings) will say all the right spoon-fed talking points and prostitute themselves while promoting overblown and poorly-spent projects that hurt and not help the community. 

In other words, the Chambers of Commerce and the unions might be self-serving job/revenue seekers, but as corporate citizens they've become as meritorious as Goldman Sachs and other lovely Wall Street firms.  Alternative 1 isn't the only project that was NOT the environmentally-favored alternative that is endorsed by the usual suspects for "jobs". 

And with Englander an outspoken advocate of the CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) taxpayer-funded slush funds that were recently nixed by Governor Brown as part of statewide budgetary reform, one has to wonder what sort of corporate citizen he strives to be, and how he wishes to portray himself to his constituents.  

Seriously, Councilmembers Englander and Buscaino--do jobs and the environment have to be mutually exclusive?  Won't plenty of jobs be created by the environmentally-favored Alternative 2?  Would you want Westside Councilmembers stepping on the needs and environment of the Valley and Harbor regions? 

This sentiment for Alternative 2 was shared from Brentwood to El Segundo, and NOT just Westchester.   

And while it might hip, cool, and a more than a little bit of fun to step on the collective neck of Westside residents, it should be noted that both Valley and Harbor residents of Los Angeles might also be infuriated if they discovered that the 405 would be choked with traffic diverted from Lincoln and Sepulveda Blvds. (which, in turn, are filled with lots of traffic for those living/driving west of--and avoiding--the 405 freeway). 

In other words, Buscaino and Englander would do well to speak to their own constituents as to what will happen if Alternative 1 is approved by the full City Council.  It might be easy to presume this will only be a Westchester, or even just a Westside, thing--but it won't be.  Sorry.  That's not the way things will work. 

Furthermore, wouldn't Buscaino and Englander do well to have Westsiders, particularly those many homeowners who voted to approve Measure R (and are open to necessary transportation/infrastructure improvements) on their side?  Can their bond measure pass without Westside support? 

It's pretty hard to make the case for better mobility when one has just created an Endless Carmageddon from the Valley to the South Bay and Harbor regions by creating a crush at the 405 freeway at LAX for years to come, and it's pretty hard to tax Westsiders who feel stepped on--including the Westside environmentalists who are usually the first to tax themselves for the right causes. 

Please, Councilmembers Englander and Buscaino--do the right thing and reconsider (as should the rest of the City Council) when this comes up before the full City Council.  

What's the point of getting L.A. off coal if we're going to create a fume-a-thon at LAX on the 405 freeway? 

And what's the point of trying to convince neighborhood councils to provide input on a proposed bond measure if you just ignored their combined and universal plea to pass Alternative 2 and NOT extend LAX into Westchester, and  against their outspoken opposition virtually shut-down the one north-south route other than the 405 to access the Westside?


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at  [email protected].  He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us.   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)





Vol 11 Issue 32

Pub: Apr 19, 2013



Get The News In Your Email Inbox Mondays & Thursdays