Beware of the Bandit Taxi Cabs in West Hollywood

The City of West Hollywood has launched a new campaign to help fight against bandit taxicabs. Bandit taxicabs are taxicabs that are not licensed to operate in the City of West Hollywood. Currently, there are seven fully-licensed and insured franchised taxi companies that are authorized to operate in West Hollywood. These companies employ drivers that have passed a criminal background check and are subject to random drug and/or alcohol testing. In addition, each vehicle is subject to an annual inspection.

Can Bike Activist Box Unseat LaBonge in LA Council Race?

In car centric Los Angeles, just one week after the adoption of a revolutionary bike plan, car-free bike activist Stephen Box is poised to score a huge upset in Tuesday’s City Council elections. Box, who has been a huge leader in LA’s tenacious cycling movement, could upset 10 year incumbent and entrenched City Councilman Tom LaBonge, in the race for the City’s 4th Council District seat. The 4th District wraps around West Hollywood from Fairfax to La Brea, extending north to the San Fernando Valley along Laurel Canyon. Box’s rise to serious City Council contender from political nothing activist is something of a political “rags to riches” story: Box wasn’t political till he was hit by a bus while riding, and local politicos treated his complaints with disdain. From there, Box went on to serve jump start LA’s transportation blogging movement, co-author the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, spend three years transforming the City’s new bike plan, and bringing LAPD to the table on cycling issues.

Opinion: Public Transit and the Race for City Council

Opinion by Dan Wentzel, publisher of the Ride the Pink Line blog

When considering how to vote in an election, we all have the issues that matter most to us. My pet issue in local government is public transit. It is vital to me that candidates for elective office have a clear understanding of both the needs and opportunities for public transportation in West Hollywood and the rest of Los Angeles County and the whole state of California. I sent a public transit questionnaire to all of the candidates for West Hollywood City Council, but I did not know what if any response I would get. Editor’s Note: See responses from Abbe Land, Scott Schmidt and Lindsey Horvath.

‘Castle’ Stars Give Up Cars for Alternative Travel Project

The Green blog at the New York Times is reporting on two stars of the ABC show Castle who agreed to give up their cars for 7 days out of one recent month and then participated in a series of videos to talk about what it was like to get to the studio without a car. The video series is being presented by the Alternative Travel Project in partnership with the Sierra Club.  The goal of the project is to convince people to give up their cars for one day per week. Actors Stana Katic and Seamus Dever from ABC’s Castle are featured in the videos.  Katic commuted by public transit to the Hollywood studio from her home in Downtown Los Angeles, while Dever had a shorter commute that he completed by bike from his home here in West Hollywood.  But even the 2 miles or so in Dever’s journey took some planning due to avoid hills and the most bike-unfriendly streets on the route. The first video in the series was posted yesterday (see below).  Additional videos will  be posted in the coming days, including one focused on Weho resident Dever on Tuesday (update: the second video also added below). Read more about the project at the New York Times and the Alternative Travel Project.

Street Closure Information for AIDS Walk on Sunday

The City of West Hollywood will host the 2010 AIDS Walk Los Angeles (AWLA) this  Sunday, October 17, 2010. The event starts at 9:15 a.m. at West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard. AIDS Walk Los Angeles has a 6.2-mile route around the streets of the area, and is expected to host 30,000 participants showing their support for AIDS awareness and activism. The money raised by AWLA benefits AIDS Project Los Angeles and other AIDS service organizations across Los Angeles County. There may be some traffic delays getting around West Hollywood on Sunday morning, so be prepared.

Metro Deletes West Hollywood from Westside Subway

Metro has released their approval recommendations for the Westside Subway outlining how the agency envisions moving forward on the project.  It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that a subway spur through West Hollywood is being cut.  It is a bit of a surprise to hear how final that cut is, and that no plans are going to be made for a future, distinct project to build out a West Hollywood subway line. As we previously reported, no money exists to build out a West Hollywood subway segment, so it isn’t very surprising that it was cut.  However, Metro had been talking about options for building the Wilshire/Robertson subway stop that would have included a connection structure that could have provided a future connection to West Hollywood.  Now, even that extra work has been removed. Metro writes, “the heavy rail option for the West Hollywood line did not perform as well as anticipated when evaluated” for Federal funding and that the $135 million needed to build out the structure with a provision for West Hollywood isn’t available with current funding sources. The report states that “West Hollywood has very high potential as a transit corridor” there may be “alternative, less costly, solutions to serve the route” through our city.  The RideThePinkLine blog outlines some potential ideas. Those alternatives might include light rail, perhaps on the surface rather than underground (or a combination of both).  But West Hollywood is back to square one in hoping for more serious mass transit in our city, except that we now have a bit more knowledge from the study that was done for the Westside Subway project.

Meters, Peak Hour Towing Not Enforced on Columbus Day

In observance of Columbus Day on Monday October 11, 2010, there will be no enforcement of parking meters and associated time limits, as well as peak hour towing restrictions. In addition, there will be no street sweeping. Trash collection services will continue as usual. Permit parking and all other restrictions will also be enforced on Columbus Day.  You will still need visitor permits if your guests wish to park on the street.   They will be available at the Kings Road Parking Structure from 8 a.m. to midnight, or at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station.

Car Sharing Comes to Weho, Offers Savings Over Owning

Car sharing has come to West Hollywood with the opening of LAXCarShare, and their car sharing program might just save you money over owning your own car. The company has opened a location at the Hancock Lofts building, at the corner of Hancock and Santa Monica Blvd., and members of the program can use a car when needed for just $7 per hour.  The cost includes gas and insurance. Owning a car can be expensive.  When you add up the monthly outlay for car payments, gas, insurance and maintenance, you might find yourself spending well in excess of $500 per month.   The cost can be even higher when you think about West Hollywood’s infamous parking tickets, depreciation and any interest and financing costs. And don’t forget the fees you pay to the DMV.

Oversize Limos Clogging Streets Get Even Bigger

When will it stop? That is, the growth in the size of limousines cruising our streets… Via Thrillist, we’re hearing that the Colossus is now on the streets of Los Angeles. It claims to be the biggest limo in the world, with room for 30-passengers in the 40-foot-long, 8 1/2-feet wide bright yellow monstrosity. It is so big that it is built on the frame of a large commercial truck.

More Westside Subway Meetings, and Debate is Heating Up

Metro is in the process of holding public hearings about the draft environmental impact report (EIR) that was released earlier this month for the Westside Subway project. But the chances of a subway rolling through West Hollywood in the near future are not looking good due to lack of funding. A public meeting about the EIR was held in West Hollywood last Wednesday, and meetings will continue in Beverly Hills tonight, and in Santa Monica on Wednesday.  The meeting tonight in Beverly Hills will be simulcast via the web at metro.net/westside

Not only does the West Hollywood component of a project look stalled, but debate is heating up with with some vocal opponents saying that the entire Westside Subway project is a waste of money.  LA Weekly published an article highlighting some of the opposition, with people arguing that it’s too expensive and won’t relieve traffic congestion.  Some of the opposition comes from areas outside the subway route, with officials in those areas upset that tax revenue isn’t going to support projects in their areas. The LA Weekly article apparently hit a nerve with Metro, and they posted a response saying that while the project may not provide a wholesale fix for traffic on the Westside, it can help keep it from getting worse.  They point out that there are no serious alternatives for increasing transit capacity on the Westside, and without a subway, bus speeds on Santa Monica Blvd and Wilshire are projected to drop from 10 to 15 MPH today, to just 8 to 11 MPH by the year 2035. Opposition to the subway project isn’t as strong in West Hollywood, and in fact, support in the city is among the strongest of any area.  But that likely isn’t going to matter, as there isn’t adequate funding available to pay for a line through our Weho.  Instead, the Westside Subway project will likely be built along Wilshire, and possibly only to Westwood, but provisions may be made during construction to allow for an expansion through West Hollywood at a later date.