Weekly Report – February 16, 2015

Invest in and Maintain a World Class Transportation System 

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA): The L.A. Coalition met with Gina Marie Lindsey the executive director of the Los Angeles World Airports and Sean Burton, the president of the Board of Airport Commissioners to discuss LAX modernization.


Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which operates LAX, is looking to mitigate traffic congestion within the airport’s central terminal area and they are studying the development of an Automated People Mover ($1.5-$2.5 billion) to connect travelers and airport workers between LAX’s terminals and L.A. Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX line ($2 billion), which is set to be completed in 2019. The Automated People Mover would back in and out of the Central Terminal Area since LAX’s layout is too constrictive to allow a loop around the terminals.

The challenge is that the People Mover is not a revenue generator and it would not generate enough ridership by itself to justify its existence. Therefore, LAWA is studying the development of an Intermodal Transportation Facility ($500 million) that would allow passenger drop-offs, bag checks, parking, a meet and great area, and the development of a consolidated rental car facility ($500 million) along the route to generate a higher user rate. LAWA is also looking into roadway modifications that would direct incoming airport traffic to pass by the Intermodal Transportation Facility, therefore providing drivers an addition drop-off option. This may be matched with a congestion fee to deter airport traffic from entering the Central Terminal Area.

L.A. Metro estimates that about one to two percent of LAX’s 70 million airport bound passengers would use the bus or rail and they are working with LAWA to determine the most cost effective way to connect the public rail to the People Mover. LAWA and the Mayor would like L.A. Metro to connect the rail line to the Intermodal Transportation Facility to generate more traffic on the People Mover and less traffic within the Central Terminal Area. Since any changes to divert Metro’s already under construction Crenshaw/LAX line would cost billions of additional dollars the rail line’s planned route will most likely connect to the People Mover at Aviation Blvd.

LAWA is also spending $118 million into alleviating LAX traffic by adding traffic signals, LED street lights, a departures-level road retrofit, and the development of Central Terminal Roadway and curb improvements such as a new lane of traffic. All of the proposals linked to these elements must undergo environmental review, preliminary design and engineering and an extensive procurement process before entering the project delivery phase.

The movement of the northrunway was a topic of discussion and the Mayor and his advisers feel that any effort to advance the movement of the runway north at this time will stimulate community groups and public officials in opposition to moving the runway to sue and hold up the transportation projects.

Public/private development opportunities

  1. Last year Los Angeles World Airports released an initial environmental impact report of a proposed 340-acre development just north of LAX. The Project is calling for the development of sectors for office, retail, community, educational, recreational and research space. There are no specifics yet for what businesses and facilities will be in the area. The current schedule anticipates approval of required CEQA documents and local requirements by 2015, and Federal NEPA approval by 2015. After all required approvals are secured, LAWA will seek interest in the market for individual development projects. Construction of all projects will not be simultaneous, but may begin in 2015 and continue through 2022.*
  2. Once the LAX Landside Access Program advances there will be public/private development opportunities on future vacant land around the meet and great facility and at Manchester square. In anticipation of this LAWA and the City of L.A. Department of City Planning, in close partnership with the Gateway to Los Angeles Business Improvement District, kicked-off a 3 year effort to develop the Century Corridor Streetscape Plan. This project, in unison with the Department of City Planning’s current evaluation of possible new land use regulatory tools for the surrounding hotel/office business district, will have the potential to not only enhance the visual qualities of Century Boulevard but also help transform the district into a significant regional economic asset for the City of Los Angeles.

L.A. Coalition support

As LAX continues to modernize its facilities and analyze ways to mitigate congestion in the central terminal area I have been introducing Coalition members to LAWA’s leadership to help them quietly look for ways to couple the need to raise money for projects like the automated people mover and the best approach to advance the development of LAWA’s 340 acres of vacant land north of the airport and Manchester Square. The following idea may also be used to help couple the development and funding of L.A. Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX line and any underutilized Metro properties throughout the region.

In 1997 Bechtel Enterprises approached the Portland region with a proposal to design and build a MAX extension to the airport under an innovative public/private partnership. Bechtel would contribute about a quarter of the project’s funding and contract to build the light rail extension. In return, Bechtel would receive development rights to a 120-acre mixed-use commercial site near the entrance to the airport, owned by the Port of Portland. This cost-sharing venture, the first of its kind, meant no federal appropriations, state general funds or additional property taxes were needed to build the line.

Potential Supporting Players

The West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX ) (http://westcoastx.com/home/) and their work was used to help the White House establish a similar model at the national level, which is  POTUS’ newly proposed Build America Investment Center. Public agencies lack the manpower and expertise to get complex projects done in a timely manner, so WCX houses private sector experts (funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and State dollars) who act  as middle man to help connect public entities to private capital. They could this with federal, state and local dollars the seek out to help accelerate funding in infrastructure projects, such as the expansion and upgrading of energy facilities, water andwastewater treatment plants, airports, dams and transportation facilities. WCX’s lobbyists are also working with the Administration to find additional budget dollars within agencies that will be left over at the end of the FY in September to appropriate toward transportation projects. They also have language in HUD’s FY15 budget that would be directed to fund POTUS plans and WCX focused projects.

Foster the Development of a Skilled and Quality Workforce for the Region 

Higher Education: Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine co-chair the California Coalition for Public Higher Education. Ackerman is a former California State Senator and Assemblyman, and Levine is a former U.S. Congressman and State Assemblyman. Don’t Sell Public Higher Education Short: Higher education has jumped to the top rung of issues in California. That’s the good news. The bad news is that California’s three-tiered system of public higher education is badly underfunded with dire consequences for Californians—now and in the future. Gov. Brown said in his inaugural address that he does not want students to be the higher education system’s “default financiers.” But to avoid tuition and fee increases, the state must do its part. The governor emphasized that the higher education system “through real cooperation among its segments, can well provide what Californians need and desire.” That cooperation must extend to the governor and the Legislature. Public higher education is invaluable to students and our state, but it isn’t free. Quality education requires talented faculty, classrooms, libraries and laboratories that cost money. What we invest in providing the best possible education for the more than 3 million students in the state’s system of public higher education pays off for all Californians.

Full piece: www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2015/02/dont-sell-public-higher-education-short/