The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously passed Councilmember Tom LaBonge’s resolution calling on state lawmakers to release Proposition 1A funds to begin construction on the California High-Speed Rail system. The Council cited the project’s merits as an alternative means of transportation, its advancement of President Obama’s and Governor Brown’s goal to reduce greenhouse gases and its dramatically lowered cost.
“With this revised business plan, we will see a statewide rail system developed faster and for less money, with trains capable of running 220 miles per hour gliding through the San Joaquin Valley and into the San Fernando Valley by 2022,” said Councilmember Tom LaBonge, author of the resolution. “In order to stay on this timeline and put laborers back to work as early as next year, the Legislature must release Prop. 1A funds to match ARRA monies.”
The Council’s resolution praised the High-Speed Rail Authority’s Revised 2012 Business Plan for lowering the project’s cost to $68.4 billion. The plan also extends the initial operating segment of the system into the San Fernando Valley, beginning in the Central Valley city of Madera and creating direct connectivity to San Francisco and downtown Los Angeles using existing urban commuter rail lines.
Gubernatorial Appointee Dan Richard, the Board Chair of the California High Speed Rail Authority, made a presentation to the board before the vote.
Councilman LaBonge and his staff hosted the 7th annual "Hike for Health" on May 3rd, leading some 500 fifth and sixth grade students on a hike from the Griffith Observatory to the peak of Mount Hollywood -- 1625 feet above sea-level in Griffith Park. "This is a wonderful opportunity for young people to come out and enjoy the natural beauty of Griffith Park, get a little exercise and learn about the creatures who live here," said Councilman LaBonge. Classes from Franklin Avenue, Lankershim, Rio Vista, Maurice Sendak and Frances Blend schools were bussed to the park. Each kid received a goodie-bag and some snacks and refreshments at the top of the mountain. The Los Angeles ZooMobile brought several interactive exhibits, teaching kids about the critters who make their home in southern California, including black widow spiders and tarantulas. A Park Ranger rescue vehicle was also there to show children all the equipment -- including a bee-suit -- to keep people safe and well while visiting the parks. LAPD and LA Fire Department Helicopters did flyovers of the mountaintop, thrilling the students and adults gathered on the peak. The Bureau of Santitation brought out Robbie the Recycler and a blue-bin robot to teach kids about the importance of recycling. All the classes took group pictures with the Councilman.
A new coalition is lobbying to restore funding to Los Angeles' city parks. The consortium -- called ParksSave -- is made up of conservationists, community leaders, politicians and unions and is led by developer Steve Soboroff, and supported by Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Eric Garcetti. The group held a news conference in late April on the Spring Street steps of LA City Hall to press its call for more funding for LA city parks. Councilmembers LaBonge and Garcetti signed pledges to protect parks, indicating it's time to restore services to the city's parks and it's time to look at creative collaborations with private industry and charitable organizations to help fund park programs and facilities. The City Charter mandates the Department of Recreation and Parks get 0.0325% of the assessed value of every property in Los Angeles. The Mayor's proposed 2012-2013 budget calls for some 92 vacant positions at Recreation and Parks be permanently deleted.