On Thursday, March 24, representatives of the EnviroMetro coalition provided public comment to the Metro Board of Directors on what we think of their recently-released draft expenditure plan. Here’s what they said:
Rita Kampalath, Science and Policy Director of Heal the Bay
Good morning. I’m Rita Kampalath, Science and Policy Director for Heal the Bay,
representing the EnviroMetro coalition.
First, I want to thank Metro staff for all their hard, (exhausting) work; evaluating the proposed projects across such a wide range of performance metrics was no minor feat. **nod to staff** An invaluable effort. Thank you. **return to Board**
I’m speaking on behalf of the EnviroMetro coalition and its combined constituency of a half-million politically-engaged Los Angeles County voters.
This constituency cares deeply about congestion, and wants relief from it — it’s true.
It realizes, though, that the way to do that is NOT to add highway capacity. They know, just as we all know, that that would just bring about more traffic, more sprawl, more climate change.
They’re counting on you to deliver viable, appealing alternatives. We’re talking transit and active transportation. And we’re talking about public infrastructure investments that deliver real sustainability and livability benefits as well.
Complete, green streets, with tree canopy cover and cool surfaces so that it’s pleasant to walk or wait for the bus.
Permeable surfaces and other green infrastructure elements — not just as pilot projects, but as Metro’s standard way of doing business – in all capital projects, including those funded through Local Return.
We can’t neglect maintaining those green infrastructure components, either, and we strongly recommend instituting a Regional Advance Mitigation Program to get the most biological mitigation bang for the buck.
We look forward to meeting with Metro staff and the board to further these and our other priorities. I’ll let my colleagues continue.
Anabella Bastida, Executive Director of COFEM
Thank you, Rita, and good morning Directors. I’m Anabella Bastida, Executive Director of COFEM, the Council of Mexican Federations, also speaking to you today on behalf of the EnviroMetro coalition.
Let me start with the good.
We’re encouraged by the draft expenditure plan’s inclusion of important transit network expansion – a critical piece of the mode shift puzzle.
We also support that it includes significant funding for transit operations, and want to see Metro use that funding to maintain affordability of fares and improve service to those who are most in need.
We’d like to work with Metro staff and the board to pursue improving accessibility for our region’s most transit-dependent, underserved communities to reach key services, including health, parks and open space.
Now for the not so good.
We’re very concerned with how vastly underfunded active transportation is still in this proposal. We’ve got to do better than 2%. Really, we have to.
Providing safe and convenient ways for people to walk and bike around is a critical piece of Metro’s 1st/last mile strategy, and one that needs significantly more funding.
As the proposal stands now, there’s not enough funding for active transportation, it’s not being addressed in a regionally comprehensive way, and the funding is coming through way too late into the future. Waiting 40 years is simply unacceptable.
My colleague has a suggestion for where that funding could come from.
Darrell Clarke, Chair of the Sierra Club Los Angeles Chapter Transportation Committee
Thank you, Anabella, and good morning, Directors. I’m Darrell Clarke, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Transportation Committee, and also speaking to you as a representative of the EnviroMetro coalition.
I’ll cut to the chase:
I want to express how downright troubled we are that expansion of highway capacity has any place at all in this 21st-century plan.
Study after study shows that adding more lanes will just induce more demand.
It doesn’t solve congestion, and it’s completely out of alignment with our state climate goals.
The proposal being considered today says it would reduce greenhouse gases by 4% over a 40-year period.
That’s nowhere near what it needs to be aiming to achieve.
The California Air Resources Board says that 15% reductions over a 10-year period are what we need to see in the transportation sector.
Highway capacity expansion simply can’t be a part of the equation.
We urge you to shift funding away from highway capacity expansion and towards supporting the build-out of a robust active transportation network.
It’s what the performance metrics suggest is the right way forward, and it’s how you can lead our region towards a more livable, congestion-eased, multi-modal future.