Zwartz Talk

How the Davos 1% Are Leading Los Angeles Back to the Early 20th Century

The Dangers Lurking in Los Angeles’ Mobility Plan 2035

presented and edited by Scott Zwartz

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Davos Set of the 1% have made their plans for us, but the goal of their plans is not for our benefit.  Being billionaires and political leaders, their plans are solely to benefit themselves.  Los Angeles is only one small part of their agenda to maximize their wealth.  Since the Crash of 2008, 90% of all productivity gains in the United States has gone to the top 1%.  Worldwide there are literally trillions of dollars at stake.  The members of 1%, however, are heavily invested in old fashioned technology of high rises and locomotives.  As a result, they favor all fixed rail types of transportation — subways and high rises in dense core areas go hand in hand.

21st Century technology, however, favors more urban sprawl, more electric cars, and Virtual Presence.  In brief, the future threatens Davos #1’s world hegemony based on early 20th Century technology of high rises and fixed-rail transit. Subways and extremely dense high rises are a vicious cycle.  The subways are horribly expensive to maintain and operate and thus they need to large ridership.  The Davos Set then uses the need for billions more in fares as the reason to construct an ever increasing number of high rises, and then as the traffic congestion becomes worse, they use that nightmare to justify our spending hundreds of Billions more on subways and Light Rail Transit [LRT], e.g trolleys

Thus, the Davos 1% are desperate to tie us to the older industries where their profits are based.   Their destroying home ownership and making people dependent upon mass transportation, which the government may shut down whenever it feels threatens, also support the continued dominance of the Davos Set.  As we have seen in Los Angeles, the Garcetti Administration like the Villaraigosa Administration before him has been following housing polices which place home ownership out of the range of most Angelenos.

As reported by CurbedLos Angeles on July 13, 2017, “Median income earners in LA can afford less than 7 percent of the homes on the market.”  The situation is more bleak for Hispanics who can afford only 2.2% of the homes on the market and Blacks who can afford only 1% of the homes.  As home ownership is the major place where people accumulate their cash, Hispanics and Blacks are being systematically deprive of the major way to save money.  Instead, all the housing money will go for rent and at the end of 30 years, they will have nothing to show for it.   Their lives will be forever subjected to the caprice and avarice of landlords.  Being 84 years old and on fixed income does not prevent a landlord from evicting an elderly who cannot pay the rent increase.

The more dependent people become upon the government, the less control they have over their lives.  That is one reason the Davos 1% hate urban sprawl — when people live on individual plots of land where each home has it own solar generating capacity, the populace has a firmer base to object to the Davos 1% running roughshod over them.

Following is just one objection to the imposition of their goals upon the rest of us.  It is a reformatted version of Hollywoodians Encouraging Logical Planning’s [HELP] and Citizens Coalition Los Angeles’ [CCLA] first objection to Los Angeles’s Mobility Plan 2035.

MOBILITY PLAN 2035 IS FATALLY DEFECTIVE FOR FAILURE TO STUDY REASONABLE RANGE OF CEQA ALTERNATIVES – JULY 2015

I.
SYNOPSIS
Mobility Plan 2035 is Fatally Defective Due to Omission
of Reasonable CEQA Alternative

1. The City is Aware of the Omitted CEQA Alternative:

Although the City has been previously advised about the need for Mobility Plan 2035 to study all Reasonable Transportation Alternatives, the City has failed to do so. The most recent City publication is the Findings of Fact, Mobility Plan 2035, Los Angeles, California dated July 30, 2015 released July 31, 2015 [City’s Fact Findings].

The City’s Fact Findings, Section 5, starting on page 21, lists and discusses five (5) alternatives, none of which mention the major Transportation Alternative; it is known by different names, e.g. Virtual Presence, TelePresence ©, Telecommuting (City of Los Angeles), Telework (US Government), but the names describe the form of transportation. These comments use Virtual Presence as its preferred term.

The City’s Fact Findings do not mention other alternatives which were considered but rejected as a reasonable CEQA Alternative. Laurel Heights Improvement Association v. Regents of the University of California (1988) 47 Cal.3d 376, 399-407, 253 Cal.Rptr 426

Ironically, The FEIR itself lauds the benefits of Virtual Presence as one of the tools by which it was able to increase citizen participation in MP 2035’s preparation.

Online Town Hall: As an experimental effort and new way of expanding the number and diversity of stakeholders, the MP 2035 contracted the services of MindMixer and introduced an online town hall through ideas.la2b.org. This online format provided an opportunity for community members to share thoughts and opinions about the streets of Los Angeles. The virtual town hall has allowed for a wider range of citizens to participate outside of traditional workshops and focus groups. The largest participant group was in the 25 to 45 age range. In addition, participants were represented from 79 of the 108 (73 percent) zip codes associated with the City of Los Angeles, as well as additional partici-pants from Culver City, Long Beach, Pasadena, Santa Monica, and the South Bay. The online format also allowed staff to identify geographical areas where there was limited participation and focus additional outreach efforts in those communities. MP 2035, FEIR page 2-19

The City cannot claim ignorance of a mode of transportation which it actually used to prepare Mobility Plan 2035. Furthermore, The City has ignored its first study on Virtual Presence, i.e., its own City of Los Angeles Telecom-muting Project Final Report, March 1993 by JALA International, Inc. [1993 Los Angeles Study]

Because the City cannot deny that it knows about Virtual Presence as a mode of Transportation and that the City omitted VP from the DEIR, FEIR, Findings of Fact, The Staff Report, the entire MP 2035 is fatally defective.

The fact that Virtual Presence is a developing technology which will be significantly enhanced in the coming decades is no reason to exclude it from study as a reasonable alternative. CEQA Guidelines, § 15125.6(a), Mira Mobile Community v City of Oceanside (4th Dist. 2004) 119 Cal.App.4th 477, 489

Although the City ultimately rejected these alternatives as “infeasible,” this conclusion does not imply these alternatives were improperly included for discussion. Alternatives included in an EIR need only be “potentially feasible” (CEQA Guidelines, § 15126.6, subd. (a)), meaning they are “capable of being accomplished in a successful manner within a reasonable period of time, taking into account economic, environmental, social, and technological factors.” (§ 21061.1.) Mira Mobile, supra, 119 Cal.App.4th at 489

2. Unique Nature of Virtual Presence Makes it
Applicable to All Other Alternatives

As is shown below, Virtual Presence is applicable to each of the five (5) CEQA Alternatives and the studies of each of those alternatives is based on fatally flawed data and wishful thinking, making each alternative unacceptable under CEQA. A Statement of Overriding Considerations does not cure the omission of a CEQA alternative nor does it allow an alternative which is based on materially flawed data to be adopted.

3. Statement of Overriding Considerations Does Not Cure Flawed
Data or Failure to Study CEQA Alternatives

Because MP 2035’s Statement of Overriding Consideration must be supported by substantial evidence, its failure to consider Virtual Presence as a separate CEQA Alternative or as a significant component of the CEQA Alternatives which MP 235 studied makes MP 2035 fatally defective. Koster v. County of San Joaquin (3rd Dist. 1996) 47 Cal.App.4th 29, 32, 54 Cal.Rptr2d 565, Sierra Club v. Contra Costa County (1st Dist. 1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1212, 1222-1224, 13 Cal.Rptr.2d 182.

The CEQA challenge to Mobility Plan 2035 can be made without a Petitioner’s waiting for any new project to be approved under MP 2035. Koster, supra, 47 Cal.App.4th at 32

II.
Mobility Plan 2035 Excludes Virtual Presence,
a Known Alternative Form of Transportation

The Mobility Plan 2035 [MB 2035]has the duty to set forth and examine all reasonable alternatives. MB 2035 excludes a known, reasonable CEQA alternative which has official city documentation going back to 1993. For some, this alternative mode of transportation is called Tele-commuting, for others it is Telepresence© (Cisco), the federal government uses Telework, but for these comments, the term is Virtual Presence.

 

(1)  Virtual Presence (VP) is a form of Transportation which has been officially recognized both by the federal government (see http://www.telework.gov) and Los Angeles County as well as the City of Los Angeles Telecommuting Project Final Report, March 1993 by JALA International, Inc. (copy submitted herewith) VP is the marriage of Telecommuting and Social Networking made possible by the technological advances in the last two decades. The improved technology allows for two-way visual, written and oral communication on life size monitors. With the 3-D monitors along with the ability for multi-way televised communication between people miles apart, Virtual Presence is a form of transportation which the Mobility Plan 2035 may not legally ignore.

(2)  Virtual Presence’s full functionality requires a greatly upgraded Internet capacity and that presents an excellent economic opportunity for Los Angeles and its so-called Silicon Beach mentality. Presently, the idea of bringing such technological industries to Los Angeles lives in the realm of political hype. If, on the other hand, Los Angeles took the lead in further development and support of Virtual Presence, then Los Angeles and environs could become a Silicon Beach.

Presently, we are immersed in the small and mobile applications of communications. Soon, however, the large and stationary application will be the dominant feature of the new technology. While the technology presently exists to create the Virtual Presence network, the upgrades, modifications, new efficiencies and dependent new industries are waiting around the corner.

Directional mics are one example. Directional mics which can pick up a person’s voice from anywhere in the room are one facet of Virtual Presence. Directional mics are beneficial as Virtual Presence does not tie people to a small monitor. With wall size screens, people can move about a room and still see the other person/s. That requires enhanced microphones which can pick up the voice from any part of the room. In return, these mics require more sophis-ticated software as they need to screen out the unnecessary and the distracting ambient noise.

An analogy would be to the early monochromatic monitors. They were adequate to launch the computer age, but who would think of buying a mono-chromatic monitor today? No one would propose that office and home computers remain off the market and not considered until color monitors had become cost effective.

An obvious dependent industry will be Virtual Stores. With Virtual Presence, Virtual Stores will become financially feasible. Rather than shopping on-line from lists, people will visit Virtual Stores using their avatars. They will be able to stroll down aisles of merchandise, take it off the shelf (no matter how much it weighs) and examine it very closely.

Editor’s note: HELP’s & CCLA’s observation predates by two years Amazon’s July 2017 acquisition of Whole Food

One significant advancement will be the ability of two, three or more people from different parts of the globe to go virtual shopping together at the same time with their avatars, while communicating with each other. For example, two sisters, one who is in Van Nuys and the other who is in Atlanta, can shop for a Mother’s day gift together at a Paris Salon. On the other hand, two other sisters who live in West LA could virtually shop at May Company.

The economic opportunities for Los Angeles to become the hub of Virtual Presence are beyond anything the City has imagined – because it refuses to fallow the law and study all CEQA Alternatives.

(3)  The Business Benefits of Virtual Presence

The number of man hours and the reduced air pollution that Los Angeles could gain from Virtual Presence are hard to calculate, but the 1993 City report on Telecommuting (Part 2 Potential Impacts) attempted. Rather than repeat what one may read for themselves, we will give one business example.
People probably do not realize that every day thousands of lawyers criss-cross Los Angeles County from San Pedro to Granada Hills from Santa Monica to Pomona. Attorneys are traveling many miles in order to have a 5 minute status conference in front of a judge. While some attorneys use Court Call and participate as a disembodied voice, most attorneys know that face-time with the judge is important. Virtual Presence allows for face-time with the judge and also saves the client hundreds of dollars and makes the court’s work easier.

With Virtual Presence, a huge percentage of today’s physical trips can be more easily accomplished while at home (or at an office). Virtual Presence not only allows the judge to see each person with picture inserts on her large screen, but also to focus primarily one person with whom she is conversing. Each attorney would have the same electronic capability to watch the judge but also opposing counsel. If any document should be necessary, there are high-speed scanners which can send a relevant document to the judge and the other attorneys just as fast as a bailiff can come over to take it to the bench.

With attorneys charging $650 per hour, reducing a 2 hour trip to court to 5 to 10 minutes is a huge savings for the client. It also means all those cars are not on the road, that gasoline is not being burned, and everyone has face time with the judge. Try that with a subway.

With a Virtual Presence system, a business man in Encino can meet with his attorney in Century City without fighting the 405 congestion. Virtual Presence will also allow the business associates in Paris and Beverly Hills to meet via Virtual Presence, and if they need some advice from an expert located in Tel Aviv, she too can join the Virtual Presence meeting.

 

(4) For over Twenty Years, We Have Known
About this Approach to Transportation

As noted above, The 1993 City of Los Angeles Telecommuting Project identified and discussed in detail the transportation alternative of Tele-commuting. Mayor Bradley commissioned the study in 1989 and the project was run during 1992 and the Study was published in 1993. Thus, the drafters of the Mobility Plan 2035 had to be aware of the efficacy of this form of transportation, yet the Mobility Plan 2035 fails to consider it. Furthermore, the federal government has published since 2002 (Annual Status of Telework in the Federal Government).

Because Virtual Presence is not confined to the workplace, but is becoming part of social networking, VP will be used for a significantly larger share of transportation in the upcoming years. The vastly enhanced technology makes extended family interactions over a few miles or over thousands of miles far more feasible than a few years ago.

While a lot of Virtual Presence will be used for national and international business and socialization, it works just as well within an urban area. The speed of VP is one feature that is making it the preferred mode of transportation.

Another aspect of VP is that it promises to reduce the resistance which many managers have to telecommuting, i.e., the fear that their employees are beyond their grasp when engaged in telework. With pre-VP telework, the employee was at home on his computer and pretty much unavailable to the boss except via phone or e-mail. With VP, the boss can now go to the employee’s “office” by opening the VP channel. Opening the VP channel is as easy as walking down the hallway to speak to an employee. Because the 2009 Status of Telework Report (p 2) found management resistance as an obstacle to increas-ing the amount of Telework, VP reduces that resistance as the employees are more accessible than they were with 1990’s technology.

With VP, the manager is not as out of contact. Many employee may find more contact with the boss is not a good thing. Right now, however, all the studies show that productivity goes up with more telework. To what extent that is due to being out from beneath the boss’ thumb is not known. Nonetheless, VP does allow the manager to confer with one employee or simultaneously with several employees in different departments in different locations for 5 or 10 minutes and then everyone can go back to work.

If all of these telecommuters were to perform exactly according to the estimates, the net result would be an annual effectiveness impact of $75,794,175 (constant 1992 dollars) or more than $93 million by 1998, assuming average salary escalation of 4.3%. 1993 Los Angeles Study, p 50

The direct economic impact of the effectiveness changes in the year 2000 ranges from at least 2.3 billion to as much as 3.5 billion dollars annually, depending on the scenario the future most resembles. These figures are in constant, 1988 dollars and are based on the area’s 1988 per capita salary income. Since information workers — or at least those who are likely to be telecommuters — are more likely to have higher than average salaries, the information in Figure 15 are likely to be doubly understated. 1993 Los Angeles Study, p 52

$3.5 billion in 1998 dollars is $7.2 Billion in 2015 and that positive economic impact was based upon 1990’s technology.

The efficacy of VP as a form of transportation will only increase with technological improvements. No other form of transportation allows people to be in Westwood as quickly they are in Singapore or to be in both Singapore and Westwood simultaneously.

Because Telecommuting is a viable CEQA Alternative mode of Transportation, Virtual Presence in 2015 is the most viable Alternative Transportation. As the 1993 Study noted, traffic congestion will dramatically drop and the need for more offices in dense population areas like DTLA, Hollywood, and the Century City – Santa Monica – Westwood Triangle will significantly decrease, and that was based on 1992 technology.

As will be seen, Virtual Presence satisfies all of the transportation goals of The Mobility Plan 2035 with no adverse environmental impact and with no drain on tax dollars and without the eminent domaining of a single piece of property. VP requires no above ground or underground easements through private property, nor does it require higher housing density in order for it to be cost-effective. It does not cause pollution nor does bring people into more contact with polluted air as do VENs and BENs.

7. The Purpose of The Mobility Plan 2035

The so-called Blue Print for the Transportation of the City of Los Angeles omits the most prevalent form of transportation. Transportation is not limited to people’s physical presence in a specific location. Nonetheless, the Mobility Plan 2035 is stuck back in the early 1900’s. Metro plays a dominant role in MP 2035, but it is predicated on concepts which the City discredited in its 1915 Study of Traffic Conditions in Los Angeles (copy already submitted)

The MP 2035 (formerly the Transportation Element) is the transportation blueprint for the City of Los Angeles. Last updated in 1999, the MP 2035 is being revamped to reflect the policies and programs that will give Angelenos a full range of options to meet their mobility needs, including bicycling, car pooling, driving, transit, and walking. The MP 2035 will lay the policy foundation for safe, accessible and enjoyable streets for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and vehicles alike. DEIR Section 3. Project p 3-1

Virtual Presence is as effective to shop in Tokyo as it is to shop in Hollywood – the whole world fed ex’s packages. Virtual Presence is as effective to commute to a meeting in West Hollywood as it is to commute to a meeting in Moscow. VP allows four members of a rock band to synchronize their playing no matter where they are located: Long Beach, Woodland Hills, Covina, and West Hollywood are all one location in Virtual Presence. (See Time-Warner TV advertisement)

Virtual Presence has a feature which no subway or bicycle or car can match. It travels at 186,000 miles per hour. Why would a businessman waste a hour traveling from Santa Monica to Glendale to meet with his lawyers, when he can be there in a blink of any eye?

Why would an entrepreneur from Newport Beach drive to L.A. for a conference when most the other attendees will be there via VP?

Who wants to pay their lawyer $650/hr to drive downtown for a five minute hearing, when the lawyer can attend via VP and reduce his bill by $550? Why would anyone want to walk or take a bus to a subway station, walk down into the earthquake prone Underground and then ride a noisy, dirty, dangerous subway only to have to emerge from the depths and walk another 5 or 6 blocks to reach his/her destination when he/she can be there is less than one second?

(5)  Virtual Presence Accomplishes the Goals Transportation
When Actual Physical Presence is not Required

As will be seen, the 1993 Los Angeles Study made clear that Virtual Presence satisfies the ostensible purposes and needs for which mega-developers propose fixed-rail transit and extreme population density near subway stations. The goals which MB 2035’s DEIR and FEIR previously set forth were designed to favor fixed-rail transit systems. Many of the goals are illusory; like the Hollywood Community Plan Update, they are based on wishful thinking and the one which are real can be more economically satisfied by Virtual Presence.

That clearly is a post hoc rationalization of City’s failure to recognize that the HCPU was unsupported by anything other than wishful thinking – and a demonstration of an effort to avoid further analysis in key planning documents. January 15, 2014, Judge Goodman Statement of Decision in La Mirada (and related petitioners) v City of Los Angeles, fn 14, page 18

More crucial that Judge Goodman’s finding that the city had nothing but wishful thinking was this conclusion that the City was determined to avoid analysis. That is the same situation one finds passim in all the Mobility Plan 2035 documents, an effort to avoid analysis.

After the City cherry picked lofty sounding purposes, needs and goals, it then systematically distorted the data in order to satisfy the economic greed of developers and political whims of politicians.

(6) Mobility Plan 2035 is Highly Harmful
to Los Angeles’s Future

The only thing Virtual Presence will not do is provide a justification for construction of extraordinarily dense population areas which will create arterial blockages in our transportation system. To be blunt, it takes an easily deceived person not to realize that when one adds thousands of people to a very small geographic area, they are adding thousands of cars. It is mathematically impos-sible to make traffic flow smoother by increasing the number of cars per block by 3 fold. Yet, in some areas the combination of Mobile Plan 2035 and the equally flawed Sustainability Plan will increase car ownership by 10-fold.

A population which lacks the analytical ability to understand that more density brings more cars brings more traffic congestion is headed for an urban disaster. When the metropolitan area is over 5,000 square miles, no fixed-rail system can provide access. Any form of transportation whose finances depend increased population density brings disaster upon the City.

The only way to increase the population density to the extent the City desires is to have a concentration of people too poor to own cars and who will be content to be Urban Serfs tied to their own small Transit Oriented District. Taking a trolley or subway anywhere will be much more time consuming than driving.

The 1915 Traffic Los Angeles Study identified the root cause of the densification which Mobility Plan 2035 and the Sustainability Plan promote – corruption. As City knew in 1915, Transit Oriented Districts artificially cram too many people into small areas for one reason – to enhance the per square inch land value of a very few landowners.

. . . but, on the other hand, no municipality is justified in adopting a policy which would tend to retard the removal of business centers to their natural geographical location. Such a policy would be nothing less than a deliberate exploitation of civic resources for the benefit of the limited number of property owners enjoying abnormal incomes from rental privileges; [bold added] 1915 Traffic Study of Street Conditions in Los Angeles, page 38

Hollywood has become a perfect example of what Angelenos knew a century ago. When she first came to Los Angeles in 2006, former Director Planning Gail Goldberg said that Garcetti’s allowing developers to set zoning was leading to disaster and disaster has struck. http://bit.ly/cRH37r 2-27-08 How Density Hawks Changing LA, Steven Leigh Morris, LA Weekly, (mentions Gail Goldberg’s disaster prediction)

Garcetti’s council district, #13, lost so many people and businesses due to his catering to the mega developers that by 2010, his district ceased to qualify as a legal council district. The only reason Garcetti’s CD 13 was not absorbed by the surrounding council districts is that a 1925 law requires the City of Los Angeles to have fifteen (15) council districts. Thus, people and land had to be taken away from Koreatown and CD 4 and added to CD 13.

When the courts looked at Garcetti’s Update for the Hollywood Community Plan, it issued a Statement of Decision in January 2014 finding that Garcetti’s Plan was based on “fatally flawed data” and “wishful thinking” to such an extent that it subverted the law. The same fatally flawed data and wishful thinking underlay Mobility Plan 2035 [and HCP2]. The city and Metro refuse to consider Virtual Presence while falsely claiming the need for more dense population.

As the City warned itself in 1915, need for density and fixed-rail transit is a scam where one segment of the mega-construction industry sets forth false data to support the other component of the mega-construction industry. Inter-national construction companies make trillions of dollars constructing subways and light rail transit [LRT] all over the globe. Fixed-rail transit will bankrupt any city unless the city can greatly increase it population density along the rail lines. And, then it has to guarantee that the people living in the Transit Oriented Districts [TODs] use the subways and LRT.

Thus, developers of high-rises like Bunker Hill, DTLA, Century City, etc. press for more subways and LRT under the belief that those transportation systems will make their highly dense projects financially viable. Subway con-tractors support huge increases of population density along their routes, TODs, knowing that fixed-rail transit is a horrendous financial liability for cities which lack the population concentration of Manhattan. Thus, the public is faced with a vicious cycle of mass transportation – urban density propaganda which lead to extraordinarily harmful plans like Mobility Plan 2035 and Mayor Garcetti’s Sustainability Plan.

(7) People Move Away from Density

The trend has been undeniable for decades. The vast majority of Americans move away from extremely dense areas. This exodus is most true for Millennials who reach child-rearing age. Like all Americans before them, they want a single family home, with a yard, good schools, and an easy way to get to work. When faced with DTLA, Hollywood, and a generally decaying Los Angeles, they are choosing to leave Los Angeles for Austin, Texas, for the Carolinas, and for places in the Snow Belt. [One is Peak Millennials: Three Reinforcing Cycles That Amplify the Rise and Fall of Urban Concentration by Millennials, by Dowell Myers, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy 2016]

 

(8) Improve Study Area mobility and travel reliability:

Not only does Virtual Presence improve mobility within the travel Study area, it improves it worldwide. In order for a subway to cover the very limited area of Los Angeles County will require a $2 Trillion Dollar investment – and you are still stuck in L.A. VP takes you worldwide. On the other hand, MP 2035 harms mobility and travel reliability. http://bit.ly/1St9WQa August 1, 2015, NewGeography, Special Report: Maximizing Opportunity Urbanism with Robin Hood Planning, by Tory Gattis

(9) Improve transit services within the Study Area;

Virtual Presence will also improve the surface physical transportation by the dramatic reduction in the use of physical transportation. The transit times on buses and cars from downtown to the sea will be significantly reduced due to the 30% (or more) demand for physical transportation. The City admits that it will decrease traffic congestion by no more than 1%. 1% is not an improve-ment. The transportation modality that reduces congestion by 30% (or more) is clearly superior to the system that may reduce traffic congestion by 1%.

MP 2035, however, costs a fortune with no net transportation benefit http://bit.ly/1St9WQa August 1, 2015, NewGeography, Special Report: Maximizing Opportunity Urbanism with Robin Hood Planning [Max Urban Opport], by Tory Gattis

What about increasing fixed transit, like rail? Multiple studies have found the cost-benefit from most recent rail investments outside legacy cities like New York (fn xxii) and a few very high-density routes – like Houston’s original Red line connecting downtown to the world’s largest medical center – to be dubious at best. Generally speaking, they cost far too much for the number of people moved, and they have failed to materially increase the overall percentage of commuters using transit. Max Urban Opport page 11

(10) Improve access to major activity and employment centers

Subways and above-ground fixed rail systems do not improve access to so-called major activity and employment centers. In fact, as the City has known since its own 1915 Traffic Study [ http://bit.ly/cJh5BP ], fixed-rail transit is impossible in a huge circular urban area like Los Angeles. It is a matter of mathematics. The worse possible future design is to increase population density in “activity centers,” e.g. DTLA, the Century City-Santa Monica-Westwood triangle. Now is the time to stop all additional density in these areas.

Virtual Presence which moves at 186,000 mph provides much faster access to businesses and homes within the Study area than any subway, while at the same time it also provides instant access to the entire globe. There is no congestion as hundreds of thousands of people can go to the same destination at the same time from anywhere in the world and its take about one second.

(11) The False Goal of “Improve opportunities for transit supportive
land use policies and conditions;”

These are code words for mega-density. Population density is causing people to depart from Los Angeles. For two decades, excessive density has caused Los Angeles County to experience an exodus of the middle class to less dense countries, e.g. Riverside, and to less dense states. Trying to cram more and more people into less and less space is a hideous condition to be avoided. As the words imply, these “transit support land use policies” refers primarily to fixed-rail transit systems. The only thing the support is a deficit philosophy that we need to squander hundreds of billions of dollars on vast subway and LRT projects and constructing more mixed-use properties which are making Los Angeles unlivable.

(12) The Folly of the Bicycle Approach

More recently, The City thinks that bicycles will make their mega-dense projects profitable, when density itself of the problem. In brief, this goal means billions of dollars for land developers in an area filled with some of Los Angeles most significant R-1 neighborhoods. They promote it as InFill development.

http://bit.ly/1cPdZCR March 25, 2015, Zwartz Talk, Power Corrupts; Corruption Destroys – Power and Corruption at Los Angeles City Hall, by Scott Zwartz

http://bit.ly/1KIITL2 April 29, 2015, Zwartz Talk, Garcetti’s Sustainability pLAn is Based Fatally Flawed Data – By Scott Zwartz

To the extent the CRA/LA was involved and now the City is simply giving away hundreds of millions of tax breaks to increase population density in certain areas, e.g. Hollywood, LA will see an additional erosion of the City’s tax base, making it impossible for the city to provide basic services to anyone.
New employers do not re-locate to areas with decayed infrastructure. They know that an atrocious infrastructure where water mains burst virtually daily indicate a poorly run city. They know that a city which cuts paramedics to give money to developers is corrupt. They know that a city that has been caught falsifying crime rates is untrustworthy.

Employers follow employees and employees desire areas which are conducive to raising a family. For Americans that means, a single family home with a yard, and decent schools. The very aspect of Los Angeles culture on which prior Mayor Villaraigosa and present Mayor Garcetti have declared war. The policies in MB 2035 are attempting to destroy Los Angeles’s greatest asset, that is, its vast expanse of single family homes with yards. When they cannot find it in Los Angeles, employees move away, often far away. And, employers follow them.

Mobility Plan 2035 needs to take account of the fact that population density is likely to become a huge liability with the advent of VP. The dense housing which the Mayor Garcetti contemplates cannot compel people to live in high rise tenements. If this were Siberia and not Southern California, the population might like the idea of huge dense population centers all under a huge dome to protect them from the terrible weather. People, however, do not come to Los Angeles to live as if they were in the frozen tundra.

(13) The False Goal of Improved “Transportation Equity;”

The city promotes the concept of Transportation Equity. This term has no meaning. Perhaps its refers to de Tocqueville’s idea that many people would prefer the tyrannical equality of slaves, where everyone is forced into the same reduced circumstances, while a special few enjoy the good life.

Creating a system where the poor are relegated to dirty, dangerous and time-consuming mass transit while the wealthy speed along freeways in air-conditioned comfort is not Transit Equality. The vast majority of voters who approve mass transit projects do so under the false impression that the mass transit will take thousands of cars off the streets and freeways so that they – the voters – will have less traffic congestion. Very few people who own cars plan to use the subways.

The great equalizer has been the Internet, web-based data bases, Social Networking. Virtual Presence will become as ubiquitous as color TV. That is the Transportation modality which must be studied. Without an intense study of Virtual Presence and the plans were need to make in order to bring it to fruition should be the basis of Mobility Plan 2035.

(14)  Fixed-rail transit does not provide a fast, reliable, and
environmentally sound transit alternative;

The fixed-rail systems will be fueled by coal burning plants in the Arizona desert making the Subway environmentally harmful. The horrendous increase in population density which the subway needs in order to be financially viable will make more demands on our power grid. The Subway compounds adverse environment impacts. Higher population density results in high social pathology. The City tried to conceal this fact by intentionally under reporting crime data. Now that they LAPD has been compelled to (temporarily) increase the accuracy of their crime data, we see a huge spike in crime.

Subways compel people to expose themselves to people with colds and other viruses. Forcing people into areas which significantly increase the spread of illnesses is not environmentally sound.

(15) Meet Regional Transit Objectives through SCAG’s Performance
Indicators of mobility, accessibility, reliability, and safety

The goal of the Subway should not be to satisfy the objectives of special interest groups who are financially tied to international corporations that push fixed-rail, which is a 19th Century solution to 21th Century problems.

Although SCAG’s Performance Indicators appeared to have been designed for the benefit of the developers, Virtual Presences satisfies each indicator, except for the unstated Indicator, i.e., to make trillions of the dollars for fixed-rail transportation conglomerates and their associates in the high-rise housing industry.

Virtual Presence satisfies the indicators by providing a form a transportation that makes all their fixed-rail technology obsolete.

(16) The DEIR Ignored The World

The DEIR ignored the real world when it ignored Virtual Presence. A cynic would say that the DEIR ignored what one sees everyday around him/herself, because the authors were paid to be blind. Mega-corporations like Siemens have invested billions into fixed-rail transportation, only to see fixed-rail to become obsolete. The Los Angeles County market alone had the potential to be a $2 Trillion market (2010 dollars).

In order to be financial feasible, fixed-rail transit requires a densely concentrated population. To be economically feasible it needs to operate often at high volume. The high rises housing projects meant billions more public dollars for densely populated skyscrapers near the subway stations.

At the Wilshire-Fairfax Station, the Subway to the Sea DEIR, for example, contemplated an additional 3,719 housing units. If these new units were R-1 homes sitting side by side in single file, they would stretch over 42 miles. The 5,788 new housing units near Wilshire-26th Station would stretch almost 66 miles. The DEIR contemplates cramming the equivalent of 100+ linear miles of homes within a 1/4 mi radius of two subway stations.

Because all the land within a 1/4 mi radius of the subway stations already has homes, someone has to Kelo all that property. What politician thinks developer dollars will outweigh public’s ire at another attempt to Kelo people’s homes?

(17) The Mobility Plan 2035’s DEIR needs to acknowledge the real world:

Virtual Presence is upon us as a mode of transportation for work, shopping and social networking.
The public hates Kelo Eminent Domain. Without Kelo Eminent Domain, the private developers around the subway stations will be unable to condemn the property for their high rise projects. [Fortunately, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 2531 which Garcetti supported in order to being Kelo Eminent Domain to all of the City of Los Angeles.]

Even in its earliest phase of Telecommuting, Virtual Presence merited inclusion as a form of Alternative Transportation. In its 2010 to 2020 incarnation, VP will be the most widely used form of transportation.

III.
Legal duty to Consider Reasonable Alternatives:

● Each project needs to be evaluated on the basis of the reasonable alternatives to that particular project. Citizens of Goleta Valley v. Board of Supervisors, (1990) 52 Cal.3d 553, 566, 276 Cal.Rptr, 410

The DEIR cannot deny that Virtual Presence in the form of Telecom-muting was a reasonable alternative mode of transportation which it had to consider. The foregoing has amply demonstrated that truth. That study alone rebutted the population premises of the DEIR and showed that another form of transportation was far more efficacious.

● The DEIR had the duty to formulate the reasonable alternatives. Citizens of Goleta Valley v. Board of Supervisors, (1990) 52 Cal.3d 553, 568, 276 Cal.Rptr, 410

The DEIR has the duty to read other official publications that directly bear on the reasonable alternatives. It strains the bounds of credulity to believe that the authors of the DEIR were unfamiliar with this 1993 landmark Tele-commuting Study [of the CityLinkLA’s June 2015 RFP for citywide WiFi].

● The Alternative need only be “potentially feasible.” CEQA Guidelines, § 15125.6 (a),

While older people may be so accustomed to older ways and fail to grasp the implications of newer technologies, that is not a basis to exclude a reasonable alternative from the DEIR. Although Virtual Presence has in essence arrived, its habitual application has not. Nonetheless, the DEIR had a duty to make an exhaustive study of the potential feasibility of this technology. Mira Mar Mobile Community v. City of Oceanside (4th dist. 2004) 119 Cal.App. 4th 477, 489, 14 Cal.Rptr 3d 308

When the EIR fails to include a complete analysis of all reasonable, known, and potentially feasible Alternatives, it destroys the factual basis for approval of the EIR. For that reason, omitting Virtual Presence will make the EIR subject to de novo review. (See below)

● Unless rectified, the DEIR’s procedural failure merits review de novo. California Native Plant Society v. City of Santa Cruz (2009) 177 Cal. App.4th 957, 981, 984.

Courts must “scrupulously enforce all legislatively mandated CEQA requirements.” (Goleta II, supra, 52 Cal.3d at p. 564.) To do so, “we determine de novo whether the agency has employed the correct procedures” in taking the challenged action. [Cite omitted] California Native Plant Society v. City of Santa Cruz (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 957, 984.

● One could characterize the DEIR’s omission of Virtual Presence as a premature approval of Mobility Plan 2035, which is CEQA procedural violation that merits de novo review.

The CEQA Guidelines define “approval” as “the decision by a public agency which commits the agency to a definite course of action in regard to a project.” (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, § 15352, subd. (a).) The problem is to determine when an agency’s favoring of and assistance to a project ripens into a “commit[ment].” To be consistent with CEQA’s purposes, the line must be drawn neither so early that the burden of environmental review impedes the exploration and formulation of potentially meritorious projects, nor so late that such review loses its power to influence key public decisions about those projects.

Drawing this line raises predominantly a legal question, which we answer independently from the agency whose decision is under review. While judicial review of CEQA decisions extends only to whether there was a prejudicial abuse of discretion, “an agency may abuse its discretion under CEQA either by failing to proceed in the manner CEQA provides or by reaching factual conclusions unsupported by substantial evidence. (§ 21168.5.) Judicial review of these two types of error differs significantly: while we determine de novo whether the agency has employed the correct procedures, ‘scrupulously enforc[ing] all legislatively mandated CEQA requirements’ (Citizens of Goleta Valley v. Board of Supervisors (1990) 52 Cal.3d 553, 564), we accord greater deference to the agency’s substantive factual conclusions.” (Vineyard Area Citizens for Responsible Growth, Inc. v. City of Rancho Cordova, supra, 40 Cal.4th at p. 435.) Save Tara v. City of West Hollywood (Waset, Inc.) (2008) 45 Cal.4th 116, 130-131

The DEIR’s failure is not only a factually incorrect conclusion, but also it is a manifest failure to apply the correct procedures which require that all reasonable alternatives be analyzed. CEQA Guideline, § 15126.6(a), (f) Unless there is a full analysis of Virtual Presence and its potential place in society within ten years, MP 2035 will have made a procedural violation subject to de novo review.

It is legally necessary for the MP 2035 to look to the next ten years and beyond, as ten years is the shortest time frame to complete the Subway. The FEIR may not ignore Alternatives that are potential feasible, and thus, it may close its eyes to the development of Virtual Presence in a time frame comparable to completion of the Subway.

The City cannot ignore a CEQA alternative until after the DEIR and the FEIR have been written and then act as if it has successfully evaded its duty to perform an adequate CEQA review. The DEIR is fatally defective, the FEIR is fatally defective, and City knows that Mobility Plan 2035 is fatally defective. CEQA requires the City to go back and make a serious study of Virtual Presences as a mode of Transportation. Approving this grossly flawed Plan invites litigation, but it means the City will squander millions of dollars in legal fees and what will be worse, it means that Los Angeles will have no viable Mobility Plan for another five to ten years.

IV.
The DEIR’s Additional Material Violations

The DEIR makes other material violations

● The DEIR Violates the 1994 Consent Decree, Bus Riders v MTA,
263 F.3d 1041 (9th Cir. 2001)

Under the Consent Decree the MTA has to provide more consideration to buses than this DEIR provides. When the EIR takes into account the 30% (or more) reduction of traffic congestion which makes more buses a much better option than a subway.

Going back to the 1915 and 1924 Transit studies conducted by the City of Los Angeles, subways are viable only if they significantly decrease the travel time. With dramatically less traffic congestion due to VP, buses can use the 10 Freeway for Santa Monica and a better system of Express and Limited bus route can operate on surface streets which won’t be crowded.

The DEIR failed to provide buses the full exploration of feasibility as the Consent Decree requires.

● The Inability to Construct the Additional Housing and Employment Units Within 1/4 Radius of the Subway Stations Makes the Subway an Economic Drain on the Taxpayer. Veto of AB 2531

Throughout the Draft EIR, the project is evaluated on the basis of the population and land use within ½ mile of the subway. One exception is the housing and employment density near the Subway Stations. For the Subway Station, the Draft EIR used 1/4 mi radius.

Going back to Los Angeles transportation studies in 1915 and 1924, the City has historically used ½ mile within a subway stop as the maximum range at which people will use a Subway when there is alternate transportation. If anything, people today are less accustomed to walking, and thus, there is no fact and no rational reason to believe that people will be willing to walk farther than ½ mile to the Subway Station.

Unless the Subways are to be a huge, constant drain on the taxpayers for decades to come, the ridership has to be very high. That requires that the population density within ½ mile of the stations must be very high in order to provide the required population density for riders.

(1) The ½ Mile Limit for Subway Usage
Applies to Both Start Locations and Destinations

A person who lives within ½ half miles of a subway station will not use the subway when his destination is substantially farther than ½ mile from a subway station.

This fact is not discussed. In order to know ridership, the EIR must provide a factual basis to know how many trips will originate and will also terminate within ½ mile of sub way station.

When calculating traffic congestion, the EIR must also have a factual basis to determine the additional street traffic which the Subway will generate if the projected housing is constructed. In this regard, the EIR must take into account the 2001 San Jose TOD study. The San Jose study showed that people who live within TOD’s still need cars. As the San Jose Study showed and as the early Los Angeles Traffic studies, which the draft EIR impermissibly ignores, also showed, in circular cities like Los Angeles, the effective range of subways is extremely restricted. Thus, people within TOD’s also need cars.

There are two logical results of the additional density which the subway needs to be financially viable.

(2)  There will be a dramatic increase in street traffic
near each of the subway stations

Due to the very restricted range of the subway, these additional 3,719 housing units and 9,073 jobs near Fairfax-Wilshire will need parking for their cars and they will use those cars for all the non-subway trips. For example, if you live near Wilshire and Rossmore and you need to go near Wilshire and Doheny, the subway is no good. There is no subway station within ½ mile of your start or you destination. Even with slow street traffic, it will take less time to drive 6th Street and Burton way along the sub way route than it will take to walk to a station, go down underground to wait for a train, and then walk to your destination.

The draft EIR fails to study this aspect of the Subway, despite the fact that this phenomenon was identified as early as 1915 in L.A. Transit study and was confirmed by the 2001 San Jose Study.
(B) The areas within 1/4 mile of the stations
will attract Default Tenants

Default tenants are people who are too poor to live elsewhere. They cannot afford a car and are too poor to travel far from home. They also cannot afford the luxury lofts which the developers find most attractive to construct.

(3) The Draft EIR Does Not Discuss
the Danger it Causes Angelenos

Next to travel congestion and parking problems, Angelenos are most concerned about crime and a high percentage are more worried about crime than traffic. The draft EIR fails to discuss the likelihood of increased crime.

What are the statistics for a woman’s being mugged while driving a car from Rossmore to Doheny at night alone as compared to the statistics of her being mugged if she walks to a subway, descends underground to wait for a train and then has to walk a mile or so to her destination.

The draft EIR has to discuss the fact that more subway use results in more crimes against persons. The draft EIR cannot ignore this significant aspect. Our environment is everything around us, including criminal thugs.

The Metro cannot pretend it does not know about the additional crime that comes with subway stations. There have been community protests over the crime at the Hollywood-Western station.

What will be the extra cost to have more patrol men both down in the subway and along the routes that subway users will have to walk. As it is now, once someone emerges from the Hollywood-Western station, they are un protected. If they want to walk to the 1900 block of North Serrano, they are vulnerable to the gangs in the area. If they drove their car, the chance of a mugging decreases.

The EIR has to discuss the additional crimes against persons which the subway will cause. What will he the cost to ameliorate this danger? If EIR ignores the problem, the victims of crime cannot pretend they were not mugged. To what extent will the threat of gang violence deter subway use, especially at night?

The City tried to hide these crime statistics, but it was caught. Thus, in 2015 we are getting more reliable crime data and they show what HELP and CCLA have been claiming for years. The City has been experiencing a significant increase in violate crime.

(4) The draft EIR does not discuss the interaction
of the different factors

The draft EIR ignores the interaction between many factors and thus it conceals the real environmental impact. As the subway requires more housing density to be financially viable, the EIR has to discuss the traffic and additional CO2 emissions if the 225 linear miles of additional housing units are build within a 1/4 mi radius of the subway stations. The EIR cannot merely assume that there will not no adverse consequences.

What is the impact on the safety to citizens if more are persuaded to use subways? What impact will more subways have on police budgets? The EIR can start with the statistics for the Hollywood Western Station. Experience with the Hollywood subway shows an increase in crime and thus an increase need for police presence on a strained city budget.

Because people who live in TOD’s still own cars, how much extra off street parking space will be required for the 3,719 housing units? Base on the San Jose Study, there will be an increased demand of at least 3,719 off street parking space for people who live near the station and people who visit them.

A benefit-cost ratio for the TOD paradigm that is superior to other investments that increase transit market share may not be an a priori possibility in every metropolitan region. Regions differ greatly from each other in their existing land use pattern, travel pattern, transit corridor availability, topography, political culture, and govern-mental structure. One size does not fit all. San Jose TOD study, Executive Study p 4

In brief, the draft EIR cannot assume that there will not be significant adverse environmental impacts by ignoring prior research. Because each Subway TOD is within one the nation’s largest circular cities, the draft EIR has to discuss the Subway in relation to the real factors where the Subway is actually located. Furthermore, it has to analyze the interaction between all these factors.

For example, the strong likelihood that the subway stations will result in much worse traffic congestion means that the air quality will deteriorate near the subway stations and the EIR has to study the increased risks of asthma and other respiration illnesses. The draft EIR ignores the health risks.

Furthermore, each one of the additional risk have to be assessed not only in relation to their cumulative effects but they have to be assessed in relation to Virtual Presence.

■ Virtual Presence reduces air pollution in the city and in the desert where our coal burning generators are located.

■ Virtual Presence keeps people safer as they are not subject to muggings

■ Virtual Presence protects people from air pollution as it results in few trips, especially when LA has an inversion layer;

■ Virtual Presence requires no tunneling and risk no loss of lateral support of buildings along Wilshire Boulevard as occurred with the Hollywood subway;

■ Virtual Presence require no easements beneath residential properties as the subway requires;

■ Virtual Presence does not run the risk of increasing traffic congestion around subway stations (as there will be no subway stations and because Virtual Presence reduces automobile trips by 30% or more)

■ Virtual Presence does not waste people’s time slowly taking them from one place to another as Virtual Presence moves at 186,000 mph.

■ Virtual Presence allows people to be at more than one place at a time; (being on the subway is essentially being in purgatory – neither here nor there as you are stuck on the subway breathing in the flu gems of the people near you. See 2009 Telework in the Federal Government Report, Message from Director re influenza pandemics )

■ Virtual Presence cannot bury you alive in the event of a major earthquake;

■ VP will have a paradoxical impact. It will allow Angelenos to move farther from the Basin, but to the extent there is no further population density over the next decade and L.A.’s historic neighborhoods are not destroyed, VP also allows people to remain in R-1 homes within Los Angeles. That will contribute to a vital city.

■ VP will so greatly reduce subway ridership that it will be a horren-dous drain on the public treasury.

V.
Summary

The Mobility Plan 2035 is based on fatally flawed data, wishful thinking, a desire to avoid analysis of its inadequacies and the omission of a major component of all transportation, Virtual Presence.

All the CEQA alternatives are significantly impacted by Virtual Presence, thereby making the study of each CEQA Alternative fatally flawed.

The City‘s omission of its own 1915 Study of Street Traffic Conditions in the City of Los Angeles is inexcusable. That gigantic omissions is one of the reasons that the Hollywood Community Plan Update was rejected as being based on fatally flawed data.

The City’s omission of its own City of Los Angeles Telecommuting Project Final Report, March 1993 by JALA International, Inc is likewise inexcusable in light of the fact that it undermines all the City’ conclusions in MP 2035

In March 2012, Hollywoodians Encouraging Logical Planning wrote to the City of Los Angeles explaining the reasons that the Hollywood Community Plan Update [HCPU] was fatally flawed and that it needed to be re-done in order to corrects its errors, but a few members of the City Council demanded that it be passed, and it was unanimously approved. As a result, there is no Update to the Hollywood Community Plan.

Mobility Plan 2035 is many times more defective than the Hollywood Community Plan Update. MP 20354 cannot withstand a CEQA challenge.

VI.
Conclusion

The Mobility Plan 2035 needs to be withdrawn without any delay and the City needs to send it back to the beginning to conduct a proper CEQA analysis.

=== end of HELP’s & CCLA’s July 2015 Objection to Mobility Plan 2035======

May 23, 2016: Because the City is repeating the same errors with HCP2 as it committed with HCP1 and with Mobility Plan 2035 I and Mobility Plan 2035 II, The City needs to take this opportunity to cease using  its drafts of Plans, its DEIRs and its FEIRs as propaganda to support harmful goals but instead the City needs to produce legitimate studies of the transportation era into which we are entering and not rely on 19th century technology.

 

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