Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Metro/LADOT prefer the imports over the locals
Los Angeles is the largest city in the most populated state in the most powerful country in the world, and yet when it comes to transportation planning, apparently the experts are nowhere to be found.
Consider the Metro's upcoming Bicycle Design Workshop taught by John Ciccarelli, a well-regarded professional from Santa Clara County. Are there no professionals in Los Angeles who can address Bicycle Planning? Ryan Snyder lives mid-city, has served on the local neighborhood council, is a nationally recognized planner with experience in active modes, knows the streets and the people and yet he gets passed over. Ron Durgin is a League of American Cyclists certified instructor and his Sustainable Streets organization has planning and education street cred and yet he gets passed over.
How about the Metro's recent Bike to Work Week which was coordinated by the Inland Transportation Services company, a transportation demand consulting organization that claims "extensive experience in the management, implementation and administration of regional rideshare programs." They hail from Riverside County. Based on the Metro's miserable mode-share performance, perhaps it's time to give another consultant a shot at coordinating the Metro's TDM projects. Of the Metro's 9200 employees, 155 ride the Metro to work, 39 bicycle to work, and 36 walk to work. Surely there is a company in Los Angeles County that can beat those numbers.
The Metro isn't alone. The City of LA authorized the LADOT to enter into a contract with Bellevue, WA's Ilium Consulting and to produce a Bike Map with a cost "not to exceed $400,000." Ilum Associates was selected because of its "extensive experience in the production of maps for use by the public." The City Council approval took place in December of 1996 and since then, Ilium and the LADOT have apparently wandered off the trail as the funded Bike Map of Los Angeles has not appeared. Ilium, it should be noted does other marketing work for the LADOT. Apparently nobody knows the street of LA like the folks in Seattle. Are there no cartographers in Los Angeles? Are there no marketing companies in Los Angeles?
The City of LA is currently in the process of developing an updated Bike Plan, supported by Alta Planning with principals hailing from Portland and Marin County. Again, the City Council approved an LADOT initiated contract with the contractor, this time for $450,000, and one that relied on folks from far, far away to join us here on the streets of Los Angeles so they can help us locals find our way. Granted, Alta ended up hiring local folks to execute some of the work, the same thing a local company would have done if it had been awarded the contract, but the City of LA/Alta contract is executed between the Portland/Berkely principals and the City of LA. Isn't there an LA based transportation and planning company capable of handling this kind of work? Further complicating matters is the LA Bike Plan website, complete with an admin address in Portland. Does the City of LA not even own its websites? This is especially unfortunate since Alta Planning has moved on, claiming its work is done, and leaving an "Infeasible" Bike Plan in its wake.
The US Department of Labor reports that the unemployment rate in Washington State is 9.9% and the unemployment rate in Oregon State is 11.7%. Meanwhile, here in California, the unemployment rate is 13%. Why is it so tough for the Metro and the LADOT to hire local? Los Angeles is the center of the universe with people from around the world working hard to get here, to the capital of creativity and innovation. It's time for our transportation authorities to respect the people they purportedly serve by putting them to work.
LA's Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa claims that building a smart transportation system means "Jobs, jobs, jobs!" but the real question is "Who gets LA's transportation jobs?" The people of Los Angeles know the streets of LA, we know the traffic patterns of LA, we know the needs of LA and we know LA. We know the destinations, we know the communities and we know the people. Why do we have to watch from the sidelines while the "imports" bring transportation planning to the natives of Los Angeles?
We deserve better! We deserve accountability! We deserve a commitment from the Metro and from the LADOT that the work done in our communities will be done by locals and for the locals, not to the locals.