A City Watch article combined with 60 seconds of public comment resulted in an adjustment to the proposed Measure R Local Return budget, yielding a $7.3 Million increase in Bike/Ped funding.
At issue is the Mayor and the City Council's Transportation Committee's commitment to bike and pedestrian advocates that 10% of Measure R Local Return funds would be set-aside for Bike/Ped projects.
The 10% commitment had advocates celebrating but a check of the math revealed a small $7.3 million problem, the LADOT had calculated the 10% on net funds yielding $10.8 million over the next 5 years instead of on gross which would yield $18.1 million.
I wrote of the error for CityWatch but even my nearest and dearest pointed out that it was difficult to read at best. Apparently what mattered is that Councilman Alarcon's staff read it and they were engaged.
I showed up for Wednesday's Transportation Committee ready to debate the LADOT's spread sheet and to fight for the $7.3 million but the conference room on the 10th floor was dark. It turned out that the City Council was still in session, debating Medical Marijuana. The long delay gave me the opportunity to attempt to engage other bike/ped advocates in a discussion of the misleading math that made up the preferred Measure R Local Return budget and to prepare for public comment.
Public comment at City Hall is typically an exercise in futility that ranges in effectiveness somewhere between Pony Show theatrics to a cry for help. Because of the late hour we were given 60 seconds to make our case before the Transportation Committee, a tough window on any day, made tougher because I would be discussing a $181 million dollar budget gross and net calculations and unrelated funding for mega Transit projects.
I gave it 60 seconds of summary, the buzzer went off and I concluded to silence. Then, as I stood to leave, the City's Legislative Analyst said "You're right." I waited but that was it. I asked "So then you'll fix it?" It was that simple. "Yes."
It took a City Watch article to get their attention, it took a half day of milling about City Hall for 60 seconds of public comment and it resulted in $7.3 million in additional funding for bike/ped projects.
I'm convinced, more than ever, we must pay attention and we must stay engaged!