Bike The Vote L.A. sent out candidate questionnaires to all South Pasadena City Council candidates qualified for the 2020 Ballot. We received thoughtful and encouraging responses from two candidates, both of whom were endorsed:
- District 1: Evelyn Zneimer (click here for endorsement statement)
- District 3: Michelle Hammond (click here for endorsement statement)
Bike The Vote L.A. did not receive candidate responses from the following candidates:
- District 1: Bob Joe
- District 2: Jack Donovan
- District 3: Alan Ehrlich
- District 3: Jon Primuth
- District 3: Jaz Sawyer
Please see below for each candidate’s responses:
1. As the communities throughout California deal with COVID-19, we’ve seen an increasein walking and biking. To help accommodate that, adjacent cities have beenimplementing “slow streets” programs and repurposing public streets and vehicle parkingto support struggling local businesses. Yet South Pasadena has done nothing; why doyou think that is? What would you do to reorient street to empower active transportationand local businesses during this pandemic?
District 1 – Evelyn Zneimer: South Pasadena recently installed Al Fresco Dining Barricades K-rails along Mission Street within the parking lane. That was just installed on Sept 10 after you sent out the survey. So I’m happy to see something was done to help our small businesses, though I do think, we could have done more and should have done it sooner. Many other communities acted before us but it is important that something is done. I would have explored expanding the dining area to really get the most out of installed k-rails – it would have been a great opportunity for place-making and showcase our local businesses.
It is disappointing that the city hasn’t attempted to implement “slow street” as we have seen in Pasadena and other communities. It would be great to encourage more walking and biking. These are low-cost options to help the community now. I’m not sure why we haven’t seen them implemented.
I would have worked with staff to develop an easy and accessible process for the community to request “slow streets” and dedicate funds for their implementation. A mix of A-frame barriers, signs and cones indicate streets are for local traffic only and advise drivers to slow down and be mindful of other road users. Signage also includes reminders to practice social distancing and wear face coverings. The signage is easy to install and maintain and a clear signal that the city supports active transportation.
District 3 – Michelle Hammond: Leadership plays a large role in the adaptability of a city during a crisis. Without importance set
by city council, plans for programs like “slow streets” don’t have much of a chance. Since the onset of the COVID restrictions, I have worked with groups like ActiveSGV and our MTIC (Mobility Transportation Infrastructure) commission to reach out to the City council and Public
Works to push for both “slow streets” and Al Fresco. It has been a bit of a struggle to say the least. Without much push from city council the best we could get from Public Works for slow streets was an agreement to implement a modest program in the event we could secure grant funding. Al Fresco has been better supported, but still slow to implement with many hurdles. Yesterday, Mission St. finally received k-rails to repurpose street parking on sections of the street for the businesses to use. I am on the sub committee for Al Fresco from our MTIC commission to help facilitate the effort. There were many compromises and workarounds, and not enough communication with the committee and businesses, which has led to a confusing implementation. With our city’s small staff and lack of funds, organisation and leadership is crucial. Until there are more members of city council that feel measures like these are important for our community, action will continue to be slow coming if at all. My background owning a small business in our town keeps me connected to the struggles of our small businesses. By having me on the city council I will be able to bring focus and attention to these issues quickly. Leadership that can better explain the benefits of active transportation for both residents and business is needed in order for it to be successful.
2. Transportation remains the largest source of greenhouse gases in California. We know that reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). What are the steps you will take as a Councilmember to reduce VMT and GHG?
District 1 – Evelyn Zneimer: I firmly believe that you can also reduce VMT by providing viable alternatives to driving. That means implementing infrastructure to support and encourage walking and biking. Installing bike lanes now, improving intersection safety, and fixing sidewalks which incentivize residents to walk and bike. Also creating a long-term vision to provide a more balanced infrastructure approach, to make sure we create complete streets and improving connections to improve community destinations. By reducing the VMT it also reduces the GHG.
Let us make sure we provide real improvements that get kids to walk to school and have residents make a short trip by walking and biking.
District 3 – Michelle Hammond: Yes, 54% of South Pasadena’s GHG is from transportation, with the majority by residents. It needs to be a priority for our city to reduce our transportation emissions for the health of our people and the environment. The particulate matter produced by transportation leads to increased illness and death, primarily from lung and heart disease. People living in Los Angeles county are exposed to 60% more vehicle pollution than the state average. We have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations to do our part and reduce VMT. We have a great opportunity with our own Metro stop within the town. It’s one of the reasons I moved to the city. After living for years in San Francisco I learned the environmental benefits, and freedom of living a mostly car free life. When I moved back to southern California, transportation options were right up there with good schools when looking for a place to settle in. I saw the potential South Pasadena had with the train and proximity to downtown. We still have a way to go for more of the general public to get on board. As a Councilmember I will work to make active transportation a more attractive logical choice. We need to improve first and last mile trips to transit, add more bike and pedestrian infrastructure to make it safe to move throughout the city, look into bike share opportunities, and make it safe for children to walk/bike to school. Our town becomes absolutely gridlocked with idling cars in many areas for an hour during pick up and drop off times at schools because parents don’t feel safe letting their children walk on our streets. Our town is small and walkable with less that 4 sq. miles, if we made safety improvements the drop off/ pick up traffic would be drastically different.
3. A longstanding lack of trust between law enforcement and communities of color has made passage through public space and on local streets rather fraught for many, especially teens and young men of color. What will you do to reorient the way that South Pasadena approaches community safety to ensure that South Pasadena is a city that is safe and welcoming for all?
District 1 – Evelyn Zneimer: I’m currently working with the local social justice community group, the Youth Reformers, to address issues of systematic racism. I am also supporting some of the sensible solutions put forth by Care First South Pasadena regarding SPPD training and community policing. We have to review our current policies, training, existing complaints, and review past conduct. We have to ensure we support community-based solutions and encourage dialog with SPPD and local communities of color. I’ve always been taught we must earn trust from the community and that’s what we have to do. It doesn’t happen overnight but I believe that we can find a path forward as a community and address institutional issues and ensure accountability.
We also have to make sure our community infrastructure opens and is inviting for active transportation – where being out on the streets is the norm and accepted.
District 3 – Michelle Hammond: Since street and traffic laws are set at the state level our best approach is to work on our street infrastructure to lessen the need for enforcement, which lessens the chance for racial profiling. Things like eliminating hot spots where jaywalking occurs by implementing crosswalks close by, safe bike routes that connect our city to neighboring cities, and street calming measures to reduce the need for speed enforcement. We also need more transparency from our police department to provide complete crash and incident data. It’s come to my attention while on the MTIC commission that many decisions made for things like intersection safety improvements rely on SWITRS data alone, without confirmation if all the police data is included. Many times residents send in public comments with witness accounts of collisions that conflict with the SWITRS data. I’ve requested and yet to receive police reports to see if we have the correct, complete information to make these decisions for safety improvements. As a city councilmember I would work to implement street improvements to reduce the ‘opportunity’ of enforcement and work together with police and the public to create ways our most vulnerable feel safe and confident that police are accountable for their actions.
4. South Pasadena has thus far failed to follow in the steps of Los Angeles and other cities across the United States adopting a Vision Zero policy to prioritize human life in transportation decisions. Do you support Vision Zero, and how would you use your position as a City Councilmember to make South Pasadena streets safe for all residents and visitors, regardless of their age, abilities, or how they are getting around?
District 1 – Evelyn Zneimer: I definitely support Vision Zero and that is, elimination of deaths and serious personal injuries due to vehicle collisions. I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t. We need to strive to build a community that is safe for everyone. Our community spans generations — we have kids who should be able to walk to and from school and we have a vibrant group of older adults, like myself, who walk leisurely so we need safer streets. It means policies and infrastructure that make a safer community. We have to slow streets down so we feel safe walking across the road.
There are so many different devices and infrastructure that can improve safety, so it’s important we make choices that focus on safety first to everyone and that starts with the idea that one fatality or serious personal injury is one too many.
District 3 – Michelle Hammond: Safe streets for all of the residents in our city, no matter how they get around, is of great importance to me. It is one of the main reasons I have chosen to run. Too many times in the past have I participated in public input for plans made and adopted by the council for safety improvements that never get implemented. We have a new NTMP (Neighborhood Traffic Management Program) that will be up for adoption by the city council. My goal will be that this won’t become yet another dusty inspirational plan that sits on a shelf at city hall. In order for plans like this, our master bike plan, Measure M projects, to actually make it to implementation depends on our city council’s willingness to be accountable and include them within our budget.
5. Streets around South Pasadena schools are frequently unsafe. This discourages parents from allowing their children to walk or bike to school, and makes the health benefits of active transportation inaccessible for many South Pasadena youth. If elected, how would you prioritize student safety and mobility around schools?
District 1 – Evelyn Zneimer: I will first reach out to the schools, PTA groups, and residents, to create working groups for each school to have an open dialog and collaborate to address issues. To help ensure we know what steps we have to take in terms of policies, programs, and infrastructure. We should develop safe routes to schools, for all of the public schools. Then we need to make it happen. These plans aren’t infrastructure alone, so we will need to get parents, students, and volunteers working together to manage walking, school busses, encourage volunteer programs for crossing guards and make sure we each do our part. We also need to make infrastructure improvements and have safe streets and responsible/trained crossing guards. We are doing some of these things but we really need to do more, work to provide bike facilities to the high school and middle school – and work with the school district to ensure there is safe and secure bike parking.
District 3 – Michelle Hammond: I would continue the work I am doing now as an advocate for street safety on the MTIC commission to ensure that school routes are one of the priority areas for safety improvements. We need to be vigilant about working on our most dangerous pedestrian crossings for our children around the schools. With known dangerous spots that have been an issue in our city for over a decade, our city staff almost went forward with other less pressing projects with valuable measure M money. And now, it’s possible that our Measure M funds may be used to fill another budget shortfall that has nothing to do with safe streets improvements. We need more city council members to hold the city staff accountable for budget decisions that affect our most vulnerable stakeholders. I would make it a priority to outreach more with the community and implement safe street infrastructure improvements ASAP for the weakest points around our Schools.
6. Please respond to the following questions regarding specific issues and potential projects in South Pasadena:
6a. Mission St is the heart of South Pasadena, what, if anything, would you change and why?
District 1 – Evelyn Zneimer: Yes, I would definitely change Mission Street. I love our small businesses and restaurants and I feel we can improve Mission St to be a destination and encourage walking and biking. During the original general plan process, the consultants presented an option that would make Mission a 3-lane road, travel in each direction and a turn lane. That change would allow for bike lanes and improvements to safety. I also want to see parklets along the street. I’ve seen them utilized in other communities and they look great and I see people using them and it helps Mission St look like and be a destination. The new design will be paired with placemaking and intersection improvements like flashing beacons and fewer travel lanes which mean less exposure to vehicles. I can’t count how many times, I’ve almost been hit or harassed walking across Mission at Diamond and Fairview, it can be safe and better. It will attract more people to Mission Street and reinforce it as a business district, a community asset, and the heart of our historic community.
District 3 – Michelle Hammond: I would make it more of a destination instead of a pass through. We need to improve pedestrian and bike safety, and make it more pleasant to eat/shop in the area. One way we could do this is by reducing the lanes from 4 to 2 with a center turn lane, much like what exists on York in neighboring LA. Our latest car count shows the capacity is low enough to consider this as an option for MIssion St. We could implement a bike lane making it safer for all to travel to the area and the train without a car, and without needing to find parking. By reducing the lanes it will reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians and also reduce car speeds. With slower car speeds, drivers would get a better chance to notice their surroundings, giving the stores and restaurants more exposure. There have been many studies that show changes that make businesses more accessible by pedestrians and bikes actually improve business for district centers like Mission St. If we have more people in leadership positions that can engage and share the benefits with residents and local businesses, we have a chance to make transformative changes like these in our city.
6b. The City has limited funding and resources, how do you plan to implement bicycle and pedestrian projects in South Pasadena?
District 1 – Evelyn Zneimer: We have to be innovative, coordinated, and opportunistic. When we are repaving a street make sure you include the bicycle facility (lanes, routes, sharrows) and always use high visibility continental crosswalks.
Let’s be innovative, use demonstration projects, and pilot projects with materials that can be upgraded or left if the demonstration or pilot is successful. Paint, delineators, and other temporary materials can be used now for real change and low costs. That doesn’t mean we don’t think about and plan but temporary materials allow us to adjust and evaluate at low costs. The lessons we learn from these projects can be applied throughout the city once proven successful.
Also focus our spending on bike, and pedestrian projects since they can offer multiple benefits and are cost-effective when done correctly.
District 3 – Michelle Hammond: Currently it’s about being efficient and making sure we are making the most effective use of our funds. As we face these budget cuts we need to hold the city staff accountable to make decisions that keep our complete street projects moving forward. It’s also about being creative to see how we can include safety improvements in Measure R projects as well. It’s about being more efficient as a city and not scrap plans that already exist and are ready to implement. Luckily most bike infrastructure is relatively inexpensive. For example, to complete the class II bike lanes on Fair Oaks from Huntington to Monterey (from 2011bike master plan that was approved) the cost is less than 30k, yet it still hasn’t been implemented. That strip runs along a school that kids could have been utilizing for years now, and it doesn’t even reduce any lanes of traffic or parking. Looking for low cost/big impact improvements like this is key during times like these with limited funds. Finally it’s about making tough budgetary decisions that are more evenly distributed in order to maintain services and infrastructure for all of our residents and visitors in our city. If we make smarter, more inclusive decisions, I believe even with our limited budget we can make large strides in our city to have a more livable, just city for all.