Friday, May 28, 2010

Historic North Spring St. Viaduct Threatened


Historic North Spring St. Viaduct Threatened
Public Hearing Wednesday, June 2

Please attend and/or write to show your support

What: Board of Public Works Meeting
Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Time: Arrive by 9:30 a.m.
Location: Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Room 350 (Edward R. Roybal Board of Public Works Session Room)
Valid photo I.D. required for entry
Parking: Los Angeles Mall 
(enter from N. Los Angeles Street between Aliso and Temple)
City Hall map, directions, and parking info
Meeting agenda (This is Agenda Item #6)

The Los Angeles Conservancy needs your help to stop the destruction of one of the city's most iconic bridges over the Los Angeles River.  The Bureau of Engineering (BOE) is rushing to approve a project that would dramatically widen the 1927 North Spring Street Viaduct (a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument) – nearly doubling its width, stripping away all historic ornamentation, and eliminating the bridge's eligibility as a city monument

The Conservancy has been pushing for an alternative that would retrofit the historic bridge and construct a separate pedestrian-cyclist bridge alongside it.  The Conservancy, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission, and residents from communities on both sides of the river are protesting the project. Yet our voices have been largely excluded from the planning process.  Please attend the Board of Public Works meeting this Wednesday, June 2 to voice your opposition. Now is the time to act!

It will be critical to have a large turnout of supporters at this meeting, so please attend if at all possible, even if you don't want to speak.

Below are some talking points that you can use if you wish to address the Board of Public Works. We encourage you to state your personal opinion in addition to, or instead of, these points. If you have any questions, please contact Mike Buhler, the Conservancy's director of advocacy, at or (213) 430-4203.

If you absolutely cannot attend the meeting, please submit your comments in writing by Tuesday afternoon, June 1. Please see address information below the talking points. Many thanks for your support.

What's At Stake

After languishing for years, the proposed widening of the North Spring Street Viaduct is suddenly on the fast track for approval. Although environmental review for the project started nearly four years ago, the project is now on an extraordinarily accelerated timeline, with the BOE rushing to receive City Council approval by June in order to keep state matching funds that are about to expire. 

The BOE's primary justification for the project is to upgrade the bridge to meet "major highway standards" and to add pedestrian-bicycle lanes in both directions. In addition to stripping all existing ornamentation, the scale and dimensions of the bridge will be dramatically altered by nearly doubling its current width from 50 feet to 90 feet.  No new traffic lanes will be added. 

What We Are Calling For

1)  Preserve the North Spring Street Viaduct's status as a Historic-Cultural Monument.
The environmental impact report for the project does not consider a single alternative that would maintain the bridge's status as a Historic-Cultural Monument.  With several historic Los Angeles River bridges slated for widening or replacement, we need to take a stand now, for today and for future generations. The loss of this bridge would deface the architectural landscape of Los Angeles.   

2)  Build a separate pedestrian-cyclist bridge alongside the North Spring Street Viaduct.  Pedestrian and bicycle access can be provided with a stand-alone bridge alongside it.  The BOE says it's not possible, even though it plans to build a pedestrian bridge next to historic Riverside-Zoo Drive Bridge.

The city recently acquired six acres on the Los Angeles River next to Downey Park in Lincoln Heights. The property is slated to become a park to serve the Lincoln Heights community.  A stand-alone pedestrian-cyclist bridge could connect directly to this park. For more information, visit the Albion Park Project website.

3)  Enhance connectivity and safety for communities in Lincoln Heights and William Mead Housing.  A pedestrian-cyclist bridge would provide greater safety for children, adults, and cyclists crossing the river by separating them from vehicular traffic.

More information about the North Spring Street Viaduct on our website 

Please submit comments to:

President Cynthia Ruiz and Members of the Board
City of Los Angeles, Board of Public Works
Attn: James Gibson, Executive Officer
Room 361-P, Mailstop 464
200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012-4801
Fax (213) 978-0278

Please send a copy to Karina Muniz, the Conservancy's Community Outreach Coordinator, at

Many thanks!

Friday, May 21, 2010

SB 375

Thanks for your thoughts, Rich.  You may be right about the idea that climate change is going to happen naturally with us or without us.  However, much in the same way that the horse is no longer as relevant today to one's personal mobility as it once was 100+ years ago, I have a tendency to see the automobile as slowly becoming less and less relevant over the course of the next 100+ years.  Who knows - perhaps we will return to the modality of the horse.  Or, perhaps as a culture we will develop new behaviors and new technologies empowering economies yet to be defined (or even perceived).

Nevertheless, in my opinion, SB 375 if used effectively as a planning and resource management tool may benefit the State with more effective (and economically efficient) land-use patterns.   

In the 1840's, decisions were made to build transcontinental railroads.  In the 1950's, decisions were made to build the interstate highway system.  Personally, I welcome the continued operations and maintenance of our existing infrastructure systems (and I'm ecstatic that our forefathers had the audacity to endeavor the integrity of these systems into the fabric of our day-to-day existence).  

Yet at the same time, I recognize continuous innovations and advancements are going to be made regardless of whatever regulatory framework we elect to operate within.  To me, SB 375 is no more harmful to the status-quo than a thunderstorm is to the ocean.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Redevelopment Issues

Confronting Vital Redevelopment Issues


BizFed leaders:


Several important California redevelopment issues are coming to the forefront. To help YOU stay up to date, and help your organization engage, check out these 3 items:


1.    Expanding Redevelopment Agency Authority


As the fight continues to protect funds for our local redevelopment agencies, an effort is under way in the legislature that would expand the authority of redevelopment agencies.


AB 2531, authored by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes, would give redevelopment agencies additional authority to provide loans, loan guarantees and other financial assistance to businesses, assist nonprofits and public agencies to establish small business incubators, and clarifies the City of Los Angeles' authority to apply for and administer federal funding for economic development.  


Supporters include the California Redevelopment Association, VICA and the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., various municipalities, business, community and labor organizations. BizFed's Advocacy Committee voted to support the legislation at its monthly meeting May 6.


The Assembly Appropriations Committee meets on this May 19th.


·         Attached is our SUPPORT letter we sent today to the panel..... 6 of whom are from LA County, including the bill's author and chair of this committee, Fuentes.

·         The Republican members need our particular focus as most of the Dems are already in support. (the committee list is attached with pertinent details on their background/priorities/contact info)

·         Use this letter or modify it for your organization, but PLEASE put your name on it and fax it to any or all of the Assembly members on this committee.


2Raid on Local Redevelopment Funds


Cities and counties across California are writing checks to the state government this week totaling nearly $2 billion in local redevelopment funds after a Superior Court judge ruled last week that a state raid on the local funds was legal and an appeal by the California Redevelopment Association was denied.


At a time when local economies are continuing to struggle, this loss of local redevelopment dollars will have a profound effect – for Los Angeles County, it has been estimated this amount will total about $400 million.


While the redistribution of funds is designated to be used to help support schools within redevelopment agency boundaries, the raid clearly undermines job-creation goals and sets a dangerous precedent of future similar state raids for myriad issues deemed "redevelopment." (Attached is an editorial published in the Contra Costa Times today that outlines the issue and concerns.)


·         CRA Executive Director, John Shirey, told BizFed's Advocacy Committee last week that the CRA intends to continue its appeal of the ruling, and will look to BizFed for support in its efforts.


      3.   Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010


CRA also is part of a coalition, led by the League of California Cities, recently submitted 1.1 million signatures to help qualify a measure for the November 2010 ballot that would protect local funding from such state raids. We'll keep all BizFed members posted on this measure –- with full details when it has officially qualified for the ballot. To read more about the effort, see




Tracy Rafter, CEO

BizFed, Los Angeles County Business Federation 

818.429.0862 ~

Grassroots alliance of 70 top LA County business groups

Mobilizing over 100,000 business owners



Stop Payroll Tax Hikes on S Corporations – Act Now!

Architecture firms across the countryare facing difficult economic times. The AIA is working relentlessly to make sure that Congress is doing everything to help small businesses, not hurt them.

However, it has come to our attention that the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are considering moving forward a proposal that would significantly increase the payroll taxes paid by S corporation shareholders in the services sector. Details of the proposal have not been released, but some provisions under consideration have the potential to have a great impact on the many AIA members whose companies are registered as S corporations.
The AIA has joined with other associations to oppose this harmful provision – but Congress needs to hear from you!

We understand that the  proposal may expand the application of payroll taxes to active shareholders of S corporations primarily engaged in services.  The tax would apply to capital investments, including human capital activities like skills training.

Not only will such a proposal  make the tax code even more complex, it will also blur the line between income from labor and income from capital. And, most importantly, it unfairly targets small business - potentially yours - which are the key to the nation's economic recovery and revitalization.

The only way members of Congress will know about the damaging impacts of this proposal is if they hear from you. Contact your members of Congress TODAY and urge them to oppose any proposal to increase payroll taxes paid by S corporation shareholders.

Thank you for your action on behalf of the profession.


Christine McEntee
Executive Vice President & CEO
The American Institute of Architects

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NEW Requirements for 1099 reporting - BURIED in Healthcare Law

Heads-Up for Business – Big Tax Change Coming
BizFed member,
As we all sort out the effects of the national healthcare reform law that was recently passed, I thought you might find this a very useful heads-up – both for you and your members: There is a little discussed mandate in the law that threatens to swamp businesses with new tax paperwork.
Under the mandate in the healthcare bill, businesses will have to issue 1099 tax forms not just to contract workers but to any individual or corporation from which they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a tax year.
Yes, you read that correctly!

All payments over $600 in services or merchandise, by all businesses, will have to be reported to the IRS and to the vendors on a Form 1099. The new requirements kick in Jan. 1, 2012.


The concept here has not been clearly or broadly publicly stated, but it appears to be that using 1099 forms to capture unreported income will generate more government revenue and, in turn, help offset the cost of the healthcare bill.
But that also means if your business buys a new iMac from the Apple Store, you'll have to send Apple a 1099. That means if your business member is a laundromat that buys soap each week from a local distributor, they will have to send the supplier a 1099 at the end of the year tallying up their purchases.

Yes, that's an amazingly labor-intensive provision that is certain to create an avalanche of more paperwork for all of us. And no, it hasn't really gotten much attention – partly because it's just a few lines buried in the 2,409-page healthcare bill.

There is already a legislative challenge to this mandate – filed last month by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) – and it's not clear exactly how this legislation will work until the IRS issues its regulations on the new law sometime next year.
Check out more details in one of the most comprehensive media reports on the issue so far:
CNN Money: Health care law's massive, hidden tax change
Highlights of some reactions so far:

·         "This is extraordinarily destructive. Extraordinarily stupid. …You do this if you assume every business cheats. It's just one of the dumber things I've seen in my years in Congress." – Rep. Dan Lungren.

  • "There is no doubt this will be an administrative nightmare for many businesses in the first year or two. Have a large business-related meal at a restaurant, this will need to be reported on a 1099. Spend a week in a hotel in Waco, Texas; you will need to send a 1099." - Jamie Downey, partner at Downey & Co.
We all need to be aware of what may face us and our business members. Please alert your members to this issue and stay tuned for more information as this issue moves forward.
Tracy Rafter, CEO
BizFed, Los Angeles County Business Federation 
Grassroots alliance of 70 top LA County business groups
Mobilizing over 100,000 business owners

Monday, May 10, 2010

PUBLIC PENSION Alert - your action needed

BizFed leaders,


The voices of MANY are making an impact as we are seeing lately the volume and diversity of opinion leaders who are becoming relentless in their drive to shed light on Crippling PUBLIC PENSION CRISIS. But we have only just begun to hold the Public Officials' feet to the fire as you'll see by the Media Statement we have issued today (attached).


As BizFed Founding Chair David Fleming notes in his attached hard-hitting Op-Ed, published today in the Los Angeles Business Journal: The city of Vallejo was just the canary in the municipal public-pension coal mines. If we have another recession in the next decade, without fundamental public pension restructuring, scores of more governmental entities will be pushed into bankruptcy. And make no mistake: The fallout will touch us all through reduced city services, reduced jobs and pay, lowered quality of life, investment losses, job losses and an ever greater economic contraction.


Attached also for your review is an Op-Ed that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal by former LA City Mayor Richard Riordan and Alex Rubalcava, Rubalcava Capital Management. As you know, Alex also has been working with BizFed on this issue, and was one of our key presenters at BizFed's special presentation on the pension crisis in February.


Our BizFed Board members have ramped up efforts to lead the conversation past lip service by seeking public positions on the issue from more than 100 state and local elected and public officials directly affecting LA County- and we also want to hear from YOU on whether you are working on pension reform and what your positions are.


  • While BizFed team gathers responses from lawmakers, we need YOU, as a BizFed member, to answer these few questions at on your interest/position/or lack thereof on public pension reform. All individual comments will be kept strictly confidential. This intel will help guide our collective actions on this topic over the next several months.


Also see below for the request that has been sent to our targeted elected state and local officials directly affecting LA County, including those running for Governor.


·         Pass it along, under your signature, to those elected officials with whom you have relationships with. The more they hear from a variety of business leaders the better!


Initial results and trends will be shared with all BizFed members at the May 25th Board meeting to help in YOUR OWN member/company actions' strategy.


More and more public leaders are speaking out on this issue – and it's time you do, too!  Every single voice matters – before it's too late!




Tracy Rafter, CEO

BizFed, Los Angeles County Business Federation 

818.429.0862 ~

Grassroots alliance of 70 top LA County business groups

Mobilizing over 100,000 business owners



5/4/10 Lawmaker Email /Letter

BizFed: On-the-Record Public Pension Reform Position


The Los Angeles County Business Federation, representing more than 70 organizations with more than 100,000 businesses across LA County, is calling for renewed efforts to reform California's public pension system - and is issuing a call to all top elected officials and state candidates for office to publicly state their positions on the issue.


As you know, billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities for promised public employee pension plans are pushing dozens of municipalities toward the same fate as the city of Vallejo, which filed for bankruptcy two years ago, overwhelmed by massive public debt in unfunded pension and employee healthcare obligations.


The need for reform has been recently reinforced by a Stanford University School of Public Policy report that estimates the unfunded status of California's public-employee pension funds at over $500 billion.


BizFed believes the immensity of the crisis has grown beyond manageability and public employee retirement benefits now need to be aligned with those available in the private sector, including 401(k)-style defined-contribution plans for new hires rather than the current defined-benefit plans.


As a key public official, your position on reform of the public pension system is a matter of public interest and accountability. BizFed's Board of Directors seeks your position on the matter by responding to the few, quick questions at the following link:


Responses are requested by May 15, 2010 and BizFed's Board thanks you for your committed attention to this significant issue. We look forward to reviewing your responses, and to working with you to ensure a prosperous future for all of us.






Friday, May 7, 2010

Baseline Hillside Ordinance Continued to May 27, 2010 City Planning Commission Meeting

Quick Update
The Baseline Hillside Ordinance will be continued to the May 27, 2010 City Planning Commission meeting.  At this point, there will be no discussion on this proposal at the May 13, 2010 City Planning Commission Meeting, so we don't expect there will be no need to attend.  Please revise your calendars accordingly.
More information to follow.  We hope to have a staff report by the end of next week.
If you received this email via forwarded message from someone other than myself, and you want to obtain updates directly from the Department, please email and ask to be added to the interest list.  Please type "Add Me To Hillside Notification List" in the subject line and provide your group/organization/company affiliations and contact information (please include at least your ZIP Code).
Facebook™ Users: Look for the Baseline Hillside Ordinance page; add the page and receive updates in your news feed.  You can also view our events calendar and participate in discussion boards.
As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact myself or Jennifer Driver at or at (818) 374-5034.
Thank you for your attention.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Villaraigosa names Chris Essel to run CRA

Kevin Roderick • May 4 2010 5:26 PM

Going with loyalty, I guess. Mayor Antontio Villaraigosa today named defeated City Council candidate Christine Essel to be the top executive of the Community Redevelopment Agency. She's a former senior vice president of government and community affairs for Paramount Pictures and had been an airport commissioner for Villaraigosa. Leading up to her run for office in the Valley, Essel was board chair of the Central City Association in 2007 and 08. She lost the council race to Paul Krekorian despite heavy spending on her behalf by downtown interests.

Monday, May 3, 2010

FoLAR Calls for International Design Competition for the 6th Street Bridge

FoLAR Calls for International Design Competition for the 6th Street Bridge

Beauty and the Bridge - 

L.A.'s iconic 6th Street Bridge is failing and needs to be replaced; can we come up with something as good?

From the Los Angeles Times

April 25, 2010|By Lewis MacAdams and Alex Ward

In Life magazine photographer Horace Bristol's 1933 photo, the 6th Street Bridge's graceful, steel, streamline Moderne arches gleam in the sunlight, the perfect symbol of a young metropolis just coming into its own. When it opened in 1932, according to Joe Linton's "Down By the Los Angeles River: Friends of the Los Angeles River's Official Guide," the nearly mile-long link was the longest concrete bridge in the world. It was also the last great downtown Los Angeles River bridge — formally known as a viaduct because it spans not just a river but railroad tracks and roads — and the crowning achievement of the city's engineer for bridges and structures, Merrill Butler, who, over four decades of service, oversaw the construction of at least nine Los Angeles River bridges. It was truly a bridge that a river could love.

No L.A. River bridge has more spectacular views of the downtown skyline than the 6th Street Bridge. None says "L.A." more unmistakably. Scenes in "Terminator 2″ and "Grease" were shot at the bridge. Madonna, Kid Rock and Kanye West have featured it in videos. Dozens of car chases, hundreds of commercials and thousands of L.A. Marathon competitors have been framed in the bridge's double steel arches.

No bridge in the city carries more symbolic weight either. There is no more direct route between Boyle Heights and the financial district than 6th Street, no bridge that better illustrates the physical proximity and the psychic distance between the working-class Eastside and the towers of the Figueroa corridor than 6th Street. No bridge more accurately symbolizes the forces that bring us together and pull us apart.

But the bridge is sick. The sand the city quarried from the site 80 years ago to produce the structure's concrete turns out to have been toxic, triggering an alkali-silicon reaction that is slowly turning the bridge's concrete into jelly. If you stand underneath it, you can easily see the concrete's deterioration. The bridge isn't unsafe for routine travel yet, but the city's Bureau of Engineering gives the 6th Street Bridge a 70% chance of failure in a major seismic event. The bureau dispatched the dean of American bridge historians, Eric DeLony — the same Eric DeLony who just a few years earlier oversaw a study that led to the inclusion of the downtown L.A. River bridges in the Historical American Engineering Record — to survey other U.S. bridges stricken by the same phenomenon. DeLony's report reluctantly recommended that the bridge be replaced, and there's little doubt that it will be. The $400-million dollar question is: With what?

urrently, $200 million from the city's Prop. 1B bond — about half what it will take to replace the bridge — has been set aside for the project. A draft environmental impact report has been completed, and a final report is expected soon. The Bureau of Engineering and its consultants have introduced five design alternatives, most of which attempt to replicate the current bridge's signature arches. But not one of them comes close to equaling the current bridge's singular drama. None of the designs has drawn much enthusiasm from the Bureau of Engineering's neighborhood advisory committee, from the American Institute of Architects or from the Los Angeles Conservancy. None of the designs has stirred anybody's blood or grabbed anybody's imagination.

All over the Earth, bridges are important symbols of their metropolises. Everyone knows the Rialto Bridge in Venice, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate. Bridges rightfully come to symbolize a city's aspirations, its hopes and dreams.

Ours is an age of magnificent new bridges. In the past decade a new era of artistry and technical mastery has yielded a new generation of brilliant structures. The next time you're trolling the Internet, check out Ben van Berkel's Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, Christian Menn's Bunker Hill Bridge over the Charles River in Boston and Santiago Calatrava's Sundial Bridge that spans the Sacramento River, the newest tourist attraction in Redding. Look at L.A.-based Buro Happold's Mobius Bridge in Bristol, in Britain. All are different, all are amazing. The specific style of the replacement bridge is less important than assuring that the design be unique, appropriate and iconic.

To promote the highest level of design, Los Angeles should hold an international design competition juried by bridge design experts with strong local participation.

The new bridge's design and its surroundings should be judged, in part, by whether it adheres to the principles set forth in the city's L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan, and to Friends of the Los Angeles River's goal of a "swimmable, fishable, boatable river." The design should contribute to increased riverfront open space, restored habitat and improved water quality. Dedicated bicycle and pedestrian circulation, not just on the bridge but to the bridge, should be encouraged, along with increased access to the river. The project should enhance the value of the neighborhoods at both ends of the bridge and encourage vibrant riverfront communities on both banks. The design should incorporate dramatic lighting and anticipate the eventual elimination or covering of the railroad tracks that line both banks of the river.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Los Angeles. The city must rise to the occasion and build a bridge that is as much a landmark as the bridge it's replacing; a 21st century viaduct so striking that it comes to symbolize the city; a bridge that our river can love.

Lewis MacAdams and Alex Ward, A.I.A., are members of the board of directors of Friends of the Los Angeles River.