Below is 2017 City Council District 7 Candidate Karo Torossian’s full questionnaire response to Bike The Vote L.A.:
1. What role do you see for walking, transit, and biking in the daily lives of Angelenos, particularly those who lack access to cars and rely on these other modes as their primary way of getting around?
As Councilmember Krekorian’s Director of Planning and the Environment, I deal with this question quite frequently. We need to make Los Angeles a more sustainable greener city, and that is something I have done for the last 7 years working for Councilmember Krekorian. I was a major proponent of Measure M, which will start to take a step in the right direction to remedy our inadequate transportation infrastructure. I am especially concerned about those who lack access to cars and alternate modes of transportation are their lifelines. Access to transportation is a civil rights issue, and I will continue to fight for that in the City Council – which is why I have been endorsed by so many community leaders and the Sierra Club which trust my vision for this City Council District.
2. A high percentage of people without access to cars in Northeast Los Angeles, especially immigrants, depend on bikes as a way to get to work and school, but lack safe options to commute. Additionally the prevalence of speeding on L.A. streets takes a deadly toll on those who walk and bike, including seniors and children. Mobility Plan 2035 established “safety first” as the priority in transportation decisions, and the City has since adopted the ‘Vision Zero’ program with the goal of eliminating traffic-deaths within 10 years. Do you support prioritizing the safety of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable commuters, both in CD7 on High Injury Network streets like Van Nuys Blvd and Foothill Blvd, and throughout Los Angeles, even when there may be trade-offs in terms of automotive travel time or on-street parking?
Safety has to be the paramount concern when facing these issues. I was happy after Mayor Garcetti appointed Seleta Reynolds as GM of DOT, because she was going to implement her award winning “Vision Zero” program from SF here to Los Angeles. Council District 7 has dealt with a rash of speeding related deaths, especially in the longer more deserted stretches of roads. I will make sure pedestrian safety is a hallmark of my administration, and will continue to fight for more funding like “Safe Routes to Schools.”
3. Los Angeles’ traffic woes are compounded by the reality that many parents and workers don’t feel safe commuting even short distances or performing school drop-offs on foot or by bike. What would you do as Councilmember to improve active transportation options around schools, public transit, and in commercial districts to provide better transportation options for CD7 residents?
We need to do a better job of implementing traffic calming infrastructure around our schools – it’s a no-brainer and it increases safety. In addition, we need to do a better job with our DASH network, it’s a very underutilized resource and we need to make sure we plan routes that take people where they would want to go – especially centered around commercial corridors. In addition we need to encourage more active transportation options, which includes more bike racks at schools and at major commercial hubs. In addition, I would love to see the implementation of LA’s bike share into portions of the 7th that could really take advantage of it.
4. Angelenos recently approved Metro’s transportation funding plan, Measure M, with an impressive mandate of support from over 71% of voters. The East San Fernando Valley Corridor project – a light rail or bus rapid transit line running along Van Nuys Blvd and San Fernando Road – is set to be one of the first projects to be funded under the Measure. How do you see this project transforming the way that people get around the 7th District; and what role do you see for first and last mile pedestrian, bike, and transit connections in the success of this transit line?
I see the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor project as a potential game changer for the NE Valley and the Valley as a whole. I want to see it as a light rail project especially considering the significant transit options deficit we suffer here in the San Fernando Valley. I also see this as a key project that will link with the Sepulveda Pass Line and the future conversion of the Orange Line to rail. Imagine a world where it would take 30 mins to get from Sylmar to Westwood, or 25 mins from Van Nuys to the Burbank Airport. These projects could usher in more jobs, economic development, TOD and much needed transit infrastructure in formerly blighted communities. This would be the spine of any Valley transit infrastructure, and I will do whatever is necessary to move this project forward as quickly as possible.
5. The Pacoima Wash Greenway is a multi-modal corridor which links parks, schools, and services to the San Gabriel Mountains. This project has been in the works since 2006 and has broad community support. A portion of this project was recently funded by a state Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant receiving the second highest score; however, the funded portion is entirely within the City of San Fernando. Will you commit to work toward extending the greenway into Sylmar, Pacoima, and eventually to the Los Angeles River as called for in the Pacoima Wash Vision Plan?
Yes I will work to extend the greenway into Sylmar and surrounding areas. I think we need to work with our neighbors, in this example San Fernando, but in others it could be Burbank or Glendale to find projects that encourage regional unity and serve to positively impact residents of the larger region. Sometimes the City of LA can be very parochial in its worldview – we need to build partnerships and goals with other entities in the region – its makes state and federal dollars more attainable when there is a diversity of voices. I have worked on LA River issues for the last decade professionally and this an example where I as an Urban Planner am uniquely situated to make these plans a reality.
6. Los Angeles is beginning to employ bike share as a new transportation option, but many barriers to access remain, particularly the cost of riding and the fact that a credit card is needed to use the system. Some cities have offered subsidies to low-income riders and cash payment options to address these issues. What can the City of Los Angeles do to help as many residents as possible enjoy the benefits that bike share will bring?
I think we should make it easier for resident to enjoy these programs. I think subsidies to low income, senior and student riders is something we should definitely look at in addition to cash payment options. I think to really make bike share successful in Los Angeles we must be strategic about where we place them. I think they must be in areas where active transportation usage is high and in areas that are high trafficked, commercial and economic hubs. We should also have them compatible with TAP cards to encourage more integration of multi-modal options.