Sun, Apr

NO on Measure HLA: I Helped Raise Transportation Taxes Before…Not Now!


ALPERN AT LARGE - It’s quite understandable why it’s hard for City Councilmembers to figure out how to the Measure HLA issue—it’s feel-good, woke-shmoke-let’s-go-broke-okey-doke policy that we’re “supposed to” be in favor of, but we know deep inside it’s NOT good for mobility, and “Healthy Streets LA” is as guilty as they come for promoting gridlock.

So why, oh WHY are we “supposed to” vote in favor of “Healthy Streets”? Because we’re supposed to be in favor of environmentally responsible bus lanes, bike lanes, and clean mobility.

Except forcing the installation of hundreds of miles of new bus and bike lanes is anything BUT clean mobility, and it will cost us dearly:

1) The stupid, idiotic, bait-and-switch “road diet that former Councilmember Mike Bonin rammed down our throats on Venice Blvd has increased gridlock, increased cut-through traffic in residential streets, and this has inevitably increased smog and carbon emissions from cars meant to travel smoothly from here to there.

2) This is ultimately just a way to promote more “transit friendly housing” which ends up being anything BUT transit friendly—the data shows that (read it and weep!) more and more Angelenos are using their cars (provided they can’t remotely work at home). These bus/bike lanes just get in their way.

3) Hence the “transit-friendly” projects built are for those using their cars but without having to comply with parking requirements—a gift for developers at the expense of everyone—while making those who oppose them the collective “bad guy”.

Trust me—I was one of those who did (and still do) favor light rail and subway projects as alternatives to automobiles during rush hour and for daily commutes.

And I very much HOPE and THINK I did the right thing by promoting tax hikes and related measure to get more rail, fixed-busway, subway, and freeway/road construction. Ditto for bikeways that don’t interfere with car traffic and lead to bicyclist injuries and deaths.

But there’s ALWAYS the possibility I was just a “useful idiot” because unlike so many promoting “responsible, environmentally friendly” transportation, I did it as a volunteer effort.

In other words, I wasn’t PAID like the construction/developer lobbyist “advocates” and politicians who’ve prostituted themselves for policies they know DAMN well have a horrific track record.

We worked hard at Mar Vista, Venice, and Palms, and ditto for South Robertson, Rancho Park and Cheviot Hills to create and advocate for an Expo Line and connecting Venice Blvd. Busway to transport people rapidly and conveniently to/from the beach and Downtown.

We made a lot of enemies along the way—but NONE of us, and I mean NO ONE—wanted monster-size projects that would transform the communities of the Westside and Mid-City into New York-style urban hellholes.

And that’s what we’ll get with Measure HLA: City Administrative Officer Matt Sazbo released a report warning that the projects contained in Measure HLA would cost $3.1 billion as reported in the Los Angeles Times.

Hence, it’s a relief to know that CD11 Councilmember Traci Park is opposing Measure HLA, although the rest of the Council has yet to show the guts needed to stop this lousy measure.

Of course, we know that Traci Park helped replace and dislodge a once-very-popular Mike Bonin, who took all the blood, sweat, and tears to get the once-state-highway of Venice Blvd. into City control, only to betray CD11 and neighboring residents into swallowing a horrible Venice Blvd. bus/bike lane scheme…

…a scheme that trashed the safety and mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians, bus riders, and motorists because of feel-good crappy ideas promoted by global and developer powers that be…and which every responsible CD11 resident did and still does oppose.

Even Mayor Karen Bass and Council President Paul Krekorian are staying out of this Measure HLA—it’s wildly unpopular, although the powerful developer/lobbyist forces that have led the FBI to weigh in on pay-to-play, quid-pro-quo want this real bad.

So it’s NOT about “Healthy Streets”, the “Vision Zero” to create zero deaths among pedestrians, or related to environmental policy or justice…it’s all about the moolah and “urban infill” when, in fact, we should be promoting a “not everyone needs to work and live in L.A.” series of policies to ensure our health, economy, and quality of life.

That the firefights are launching a campaign against “road diets’ because they threaten safety, prevent emergency first-responder vehicles from accessing homes where fires, home injuries and heart attacks happen, and/or prevent police-criminal emergencies from being rapidly addressed, as the L.A. Times reports. 

One can only wonder what would happen if there was a ballot measure to END road diets, and to create a citywide/countywide bikeway and busway series of networks to allow car-free and rapid alternative to automobile commuting…

…and perhaps to encourage and reward businesses to be open hours other than the 8-5 or 9-6 or other daylight-only hours in a changing 24-7 world that needs different commuting patterns to improve our economy, environment, mobility and quality of life.

But that’s a battle for a different day. I promoted a lot of tax-raising measures and related policies in CityWatch in years past, and I pretty much stand by all that I did…but THIS measure is garbage and will be both costly and damaging to our City.

Freeway widenings, road and alleyway and sidewalk repairs…YES.

Bus and bicycle networks that are safe and separate moving cars from bicycles and pedestrians, and to allow rapid transit in buses that connect to rail lines…YES.

A series of rail lines that connect LAX to Downtown, and allow alternatives to our gridlocked freeways during rush hour and major sporting/civic events…YES.

But Measure HLA…NO.

Hell, no!

Let the City Councilmembers and paid mercenaries parade around promoting “Healthy Streets” that empower developer and other monied interests do what they do best: be paid mercenaries and prostitutes to stay in power and in office.

But the rest of us—who will pay the price for this more than anyone—vote NO and quash this lousy, rotten-to-the-core Measure HLA.



(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father. He was active for 20 years on the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) as a Board Member focused on Planning and Transportation, and helped lead the grassroots efforts of the Expo Line as well as connecting LAX to MetroRail. His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth, and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)