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CD 1 Candidates Talk Business, Bike Lanes and More at Forum

Though the candidates mostly agreed on the major issues facing Council District 1, they still worked to distinguish themselves by talking up their resumés and local ties.

The four candidates running to represent Council District 1 participated in the race's second public forum on Tuesday evening at Franklin High School, with each trying to distinguish themselves on the issues of public safety, historic preservation, business development and transportation infrastructure.

A sizable crowd of about 100 braved Tuesday evening's cold to attend the forum, sponsored by the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council and the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce.

As was the case during November's forum at the Carlin G. Recreation Center in Mount Washington, the candidates tried to paint vivid pictures of who they were as individuals, while mostly agreeing on the major issues.

Assemblymember Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) painted the picture of an accomplished public servant with strong support from workers unions. José Gardea, longtime Chief of Staff for Councilman Ed Reyes, took pains to display his knowledge of local issues. Both William Rodriguez Morrison, a write-in candidate, and Jesse Rosas, a local businessman, sought to establish themselves as the outsiders who would work against politics as usual in City Hall.

However, when it came to the major issues, the candidates mostly agreed, and at times mined the others' answers for catchy soundbites.

Each candidate agreed that the Southwest Museum should be fully reopened to the public, with Morrison promising to get the job done within the first year of his term.

Candidates also stated their opposition to a extended State Route-710 via surface route, though Cedillo maintained his previously stated support for a tunnel option.

On the matter of improving business in Highland Park, Rodriguez and Cedillo both addressed the difficulty of acquiring permits to open shops in the city of Los Angeles.

"The first district is last in new business permitting," Cedillo said. "The first needs to be first."

Gardea offered what was likely the night's most controversial idea, saying he would push for diagonal parking on North Figueroa, in an effort to slow traffic and transform the thoroughfare from a parkway to a destination.

The candidates also discussed bicycle lanes, recently a hot topic in Highland Park.

Cedillo, Rosas and Gardea all landed firmly in the pro-bike camp, with Gardea saying the city needed to promptly complete the 2011 Bicycle Master Plan, which calls for bike lanes on North Figueroa Street.

Rodriguez, however, said that bicycle lanes have been disastrous for businesses on York Boulevard. He said he would instead push for bike lanes on alternate routes surrounding major roadways.

La vie en rose January 16, 2013 at 02:46 PM
How many people go grocery shopping on a bycicle?and if you do, you are probably not buying enough to make it worthwhile to the affected buisnesses. Let's spend money on projects that more people can benefit from.
nonoise January 16, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Promptly complete the bicycle plan? Why didn't Jose do it in those 12 years with Councilmember Ed Reyes? Don't trust anyone that says they will do something when they have done nothing.
Hooper Humperdink January 16, 2013 at 04:37 PM
In a recent survey of shoppers along York Blvd., over 70% of customers surveyed had NOT driven to the shops on York and had walked, taken the bus, or rode their bikes to shop. In terms of what is possible on a bike, things like grocery shopping and kid hauling, you really need to see it happen to believe it. Here is a flickr photo set with images from across the country of people moving all sorts of things via their bikes: http://www.flickr.com/groups/extremelynormal/ More people would ride their bikes to shop if we had quality bike parking available, safer streets, and better bike lanes (like they have in Denmark or Bogota, Columbia).
Hooper Humperdink January 16, 2013 at 04:39 PM
The bike plan was passed a year and a half ago. Completing it will require several million dollars. The last bike plan would be 100% completed with $60 million. The current bike plan will require more than that. The bike community in CD1 is mostly focused in NELA (as far as I know), and didn't become politically motivated until a few years ago.
Hooper Humperdink January 16, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Jose Gardea seemed to have a great grasp of specific issues. With regards to the budget cuts we're going to be facing in the future it was telling that he said we have already cut $1 billion from the budget and are running out of things to cut before the city fails in its fundamental responsibilities. His proposal to shift alleyway and debris removal duties to the Bureau of Sanitation and away from the general fund funded Bureau of Street Services sounded good. He never did say how much that would save. Gardea seemed to base his promises for deliverables in the district one the idea that whatever money he could collect he would immediately use it as leverage in a begging spree with federal, county, and state agencies to "triple the money". Cedillo's idea to use his Sacramento and DC connections to threaten to cut state support of the Autry in order to force them to re-open the South West Museum sounded like a viable idea - but one that could be costly to him politically, and might not work. Still, it was the type of leadership position that has defined his career. Cedillo has his feet firmly planted in the "growth, jobs, infrastructure" ideology of the 20th century, which is really unattractive to me (personally). I think the tide is turning on this religion of "growth" - which really just collects wealth in upper class pockets and doesn't pay its way in the long run. Overall, an interesting night and an interesting debate. Room was packed.
kelly thompson January 16, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Their are many who shop via bicycle and many more that would if they felt safe doing so. I have plenty of room on my bike to shop for my family for a few meals. In fact it has been great as a tool for spending wisely and not buying things I don't really need. Encouraging frequent visits and smarter spending for families is a good thing for all. While still spending in the neighborhood and not traveling to Eagle Rock or South Pas for food. I encourage you to think locally as well as globally not everyone is all me me me and are happy to contribute to infrastructure that will promote clean air, exercise and community interaction. Bike lanes are a good thing. The business owners I've spoken to on York don't all agree with the opinion of I think it was the owner of Galco's soda shop on the affect of business due to the bike lanes. Just because you don't ride a bike doesn't mean if won't benefit many.
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 16, 2013 at 06:19 PM
I'm out and about everyday. I grew up in Highland Park, and I was born in '62. I don't drive, and I get around. As a bicycle owner, I think it is impossible to carry much, safely, on a two wheeler. Unless your bike is equipted with baskets, the average person can not safely cycle loaded down from shopping. Suffice to say, I do occassionally ride my bike to buy someThing, not Things. At least not a lot of things... the overwhelming majority of "cyclists" I've personally witnessed, seem to be caught up in their own private Lance Armstrong fantasies, and not interested in "community interaction" at all. They are more of a loudly vocal sub-culture, that seeks to take over our streets, so they can indulge thier hobby. We wouldn't allow skateboarders to take over the streets, we shouldn't allow "cyclists" to do so, either. The people I surveyed on York do not like the traffic problems brought about by the recent changes, designed to accomidate these Tour de France aspirants. That said, I can assure the "cyclist community" that we, the people of Highland Park, are indeed familar with bicycle riding. Some of us have been safely enjoying our streets, on our bikes, for our entire lives! They're nothing new to us... thanks anyway!
Hooper Humperdink January 16, 2013 at 06:37 PM
I don't get the Tour de France folks either, but to each his or her own. The people I know that ride in NELA are some of the most engaged and active citizens I've met - artists, business owners, activists, writers, photographers, you name it. There are also a lot of very poor people that ride just to get around, without some political axe to grind. A lot of youth in the area ride because it is cheaper than driving, more fun, and gives a young person some personal freedom that asking mom and dad for a ride doesn't. In Toronto, Canada, in San Francisco, New York, and here on York Blvd. in Highland Park it has been shown through honest social surveys that bike riders don't make big one-time purchases at the market - but instead buy a high volume of small things on a weekly or monthly basis. This is a pattern shown throughout the world in retail markets in both the developing and the developed world. Focusing our streets on cars only (as they basically are now) is short sighted and has led to a significant decrease in commercial property values and has hurt the chances of small merchants in our historic buildings of finding success. There was report published in the late 1990's regarding North Figueroa, Figueroa Street Improvement Project, and the authors concluded then that an over reliance on automobile only travel led to a degradation in the commercial corridors of our community.
MaxUtility January 17, 2013 at 02:37 AM
So if I get baskets, which can be purchased anywhere, then I can safely shop on my bicycle? Thanks! I live in the Highland Park area, ride my bicycle for transportation regularly (including to shop), ride safely, do not have Armstrong fantasies, and am very interested in interacting with my community. What would make this all much safer and encourage others to do it as well would be even minimal decent bicycle infrastructure like lanes, parking, and enforcement of traffic laws by the police.
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 17, 2013 at 02:23 PM
I'm a Green, and my sincere wish is for the automobile to go the way of the dodo bird. I just don't find a pressing need for "bicycle infrastructure" on York Blvd., or N. Figueroa. Discover the beautiful, tree lined streets ajacent to those main drags. They are wider, safer, and overall under used by most people. The claim is there's "no political axe to grind." Why then does Josef, the Bike Plan's main proponent write, ""growth, jobs, infrastructure" ideology of the 20th century, which is really unattractive to me (personally). I think the tide is turning on this religion of "growth" - which really just collects wealth in upper class pockets and doesn't pay its way in the long run." I find that comment most unfortunate. The idea that GDP, or "growth", as Josef puts it, doesn't matter, or is somehow a false measure of economic health and stability, is recently becoming in vogue among the Left... a way for them to rationalize the utter failure of The Obama Administration, I guess. The implication being that business/commerce doesn't matter anyway, and the musing that growth, jobs, and infastructure, is an ideology best seen as a relic of the past, is not comforting to those concerned with the commercial success of businesses along our main streets. The alternative would be the stagnation and deterioration seen in the former Soviet Union. I don't think we need new "bicycle infastructure."
Cerro Gordo January 17, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Cool comment, bro. Didn't you get banned from this website, MOG?
kelly thompson January 17, 2013 at 08:59 PM
I don't agree with the proposal of using alternative adjacent roads for our bike lanes. Figueroa already has a large pedestrian and bike contingency so that should be where we start. That being said cars using Fig as a main thoroughfare go entirely to fast for the amount of already established pedestrian traffic on the road. If these adjacent roads are so big and wide open why don't drivers use them instead especially with the constant threat of raising speed limits by the Department of Transportation. I believe that if we make our communities safely accessible for non motorists we are supporting our small business owners in the best way possible. Let others build big super stores with big parking lots for all to drive too. I believe the more people that shop and own businesses in the community's they live in the more it will thrive. I feel it is vital in the positive progression of our neighborhood to that pedestrian and alternative transportation safety be a top priority. For that matter their will still be plenty of parking on Fig and in the Highland Park area. The parking lots behind Murray's Shoes and across the street are always empty.
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 18, 2013 at 07:47 AM
I didn't mean use adjacent roads for bike lanes. If you used adacent roads you wouldn't need bike lanes! And we don't need bike lanes running down Fig., either. What? Turn it into the bottle neck that was created on York? No way! I see far more "cyclists" manuvering unsafely on city streets, than I do drivers. It's easier to get away with on a bike. I don't use bike lanes... the people who do tend to be the ones who get into accidents. I can't tell you how many times I've seen cyclists battle for the road against cars and trucks! Simply because it's thier "right." Then, when they break thier neck in a crash, they wear thier scars like a badge of honor. To them it's always the guy driving. The one on the bike is suppose to be the saint, the do gooder, environmentally aware, etc. The guy in the car is the shmuck, and Republican besides. Everyone knows how that is, right? Far more effective ways to assist local business than bike lanes!
Hooper Humperdink January 18, 2013 at 11:26 PM
Someone spent months pouring over property tax rates, customer surveys, and other economic data to show that York Blvd. businesses have over 70% of their clients walking, riding transit, or the bus to shop. It is because a slower, more peaceful, business district is good for business that I support bike lanes on N. Fig and York. GDP growth, left wing ideology, Barack Obama, and the Soviets have nothing to do with this issue. This is a bread and butter local quality of life issue. If bike lanes are being conflated with the failures of a planned economy - I think you need to take a closer look at the zoning code, business licensing laws, federal homeowner tax breaks, auto loan subsidies, and freeway grants that undergird the system as it is now. When it comes to supporting actual, real, human beings who shop and live in the area - people vote with their feet. Over 2/3's of shoppers don't drive - yet the right of way is a hostile car-only environment to local people attempting to live the good life. This really seems like an attempt to goad others into commenting more for no other reason than to keep whatever controversy you think you've started roiling. Well, it worked in my case - so keep up the good work!
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 19, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Josef, if GDP, "Growth", ideology (you used the word 'religion') then why did you bring it up? You contend that the right of way on Figueroa St. is a "hostile car-only environment for people attempting to live the good life." Excuse me for saying so, but I think that statement is ridiculous at best, fanatical at worse. In other words I aint buying it. Not because of any study "someone" did, but because I ride North Fig. all the time, with no trouble whatsoever. I am a lifetime bicycle rider, and I see no reason to spend scarce funds for special bike lanes in this part of the city. That's all. Not trying to be controvercial. I think asserting that commerce is "good" when things are "slow and peaceful" is controvercial. As I believe it should be common sense that business should be brisk and vigorous. btw, the examples you give are not a "planned economy". At any rate, I won't debate tax policy.
kelly thompson January 19, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Well their are a many that don't agree with your idea that Fig is safe for bikers. I being one. Cars come so close to me it's a wonder I haven't been hit yet like I was on North Fig. I follow the rules and even go out of my way for drivers but some are still super aggressive towards me. I am a super passive law abiding bike rider who feels Fig is unsafe. I talk to countless people that won't even try to ride LA because they are so scared. You are wrong that people who use bike lanes tend to be the ones who get into accidents that's just out right BS based on nothing. I'm not quite sure what your agenda is but it's definitely not to promote bike and pedestrian safety or a greener LA if so you wouldn't be advocating against bike lanes and their safety. That's just crazy talk.
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 20, 2013 at 01:27 AM
kelly thompson, I'm sorry you got hit on Figueroa. I did too, back in the '70s. I guess that's besides the point. I hope you weren't seriously injured. I'm not the one with the agenda though. I agree with the greening of cities that we've seen in recent decades. Pasadena has done very well. I think bike lanes are appropriate Down Down, Mid-City, Wilshire, Korea Town, Hollywood, and a lot of other places in Los Angeles. Colorado Blvd, for one. Cypress Avenue, for another. As for crazy talk, I'm of the opinion that "cyclists" who honestly believe, in all sincerity of thier hearts, that North Figueroa St. & York Blvd. are "hostile car only environments" that threaten the safety of people who "just want to live the good life", are perhaps a bit over doing it themselves. Not because I have an agenda, but because I've been riding down those streets my entire life, and have never felt unsafe, or threathened by drivers, not one time ever. I'm a Green. Do you know, I'd support bike lanes on those streets, if the HHPNC can get the City to license Pedal-Cabs. That would be a wonderful addition to an evening out, and I imagine very romantic proposition, that would add a lovely character to the Blvd. As it stands now, I just don't see the desperate, pressing need for bicycle safety on those streets. When did they supposedly become unsafe? Recently? What I hate to see is parents riding thier babies in those rear carriers! OMG! That's what should be illegal.
kelly thompson January 20, 2013 at 01:55 AM
That's my agenda to make it safe for those who want to ride with their babies on our streets not make it illegal to do so. Speed limits are on the rise and cyclists are as well. I imagine they have always been unsafe it's just that more activists are riding and with the interweb you are hearing about it much more. I'm glad you feel safe that's great. Any time you pair a car against a bike it's unsafe. That's why it's important to have our own designated lanes. I think the reasons given for lanes on Figueroa are valid and the reasons for designated bike lanes are as well. I don't think you will ever agree not sure exactly why. The reasons you have given on this thread are not for the benefit of the community and or to promote pedestrian infrastructure. So I am left to believe that you do have some other agenda. I will agree to disagree with you. Stay safe.
Rev M G Martinez, ULC January 20, 2013 at 05:41 AM
Some people are never happy...

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