Pasadena Mayor Candidate: Victor Gordo
City Council District 5 Councilmember, Victor Gordo, has a track record of saying the right things on street safety, but not following through with support when it comes to implementation. Gordo has regularly stated that, “Traffic flows like water,” when citing why evidence-based roadway redesigns and traffic calming measures are not feasible for some of the most dangerous streets in his district. Over the past year he has actively courted the support of wealthy anti-safe streets zealots in East Pasadena and Redondo Beach who successfully killed the proposed safety reconfiguration of Orange Grove Blvd, and have gone on to oppose bus-only lanes, Bus Rapid Transit, and planned bike lanes on Cordova and Union Ave. While his response to Bike The Vote L.A. (and his 2015 response to the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition) shows a willingness to engage on the issues, Gordo’s track record to date underscores that the safety of vulnerable road users has not been a priority for him when it comes time to lead.
Bike The Vote L.A. 2020 Primary Grade: C+
(See below for full candidate questionnaire response)
1. Spending by the oil and gas industry on local races casts doubt on whether voters can trust their elected leaders to protect them from the impacts of pollution and climate change. Will you pledge to refuse any donations from the fossil fuel industry?
2. According to the most recent data from the California Office of Traffic Safety, in 2017 Pasadena had the second-highest number of senior pedestrians killed or injured in traffic collisions, and the fourth-highest number of people on bikes killed or injured, among 58 similarly sized cities across California. What can the City do to make our streets safer for everyone, especially older adults and children? Do you support a Vision Zero policy for Pasadena?
I support efforts that make our streets safe for all users and for multiple modes of transportation. I believe that Vision Zero strategies can be (and are) a part of the City’s Complete Streets Program. As part of our Mobility Element of the General Plan (updated in 2015) we adopted important new goals and objectives aimed at ensuring our streets are safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users, scooters, and motorists, and that they support and encourage healthy activity. The implementation mechanism to achieve this vision is our Street Design Guide that was adopted in 2017. Education and enforcement are also important strategies to address this issue. Our DOT has received grant funding to work with our local schools to improve education and encouragement for safe routes to school. The Police Department’s traffic division has also obtained grant funding to increase enforcement on distracted and impaired driving. We must also work with our Planning Department to ensure smart development that minimizes impacts on our neighborhoods as well as our environment. Intelligent planning must include smart traffic and transportation systems and improved multimodal mobility. Reducing, if not outright eliminating, pedestrian deaths and injury in our City requires working collaboratively across systems and neighborhoods, ensuring that all voices are heard. As Mayor, I will work to bring all stakeholders together to move this goal forward.
3. Pasadena streets around 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 Pasadena youth. If elected, how would you prioritize student safety and mobility around schools?
Working with our schools and neighborhoods to improve safety always has been a priority for me and will remain so. For example, in District 5, we worked to add controlled traffic signals adjacent to Madison Elementary School and along Orange Grove Boulevard. We need to continue to work collaboratively with our school faculty and families, with our neighbors, our local community groups, and our Transportation, Police, and Public Health departments to create and maintain safe routes to school. In FY2018 the City received a $780,000 in ATP grant funds to conduct an education and encouragement program at multiple school sites. We need to continue these efforts. We must also work to implement strategies identified in our Street Design Guide that improve the physical safety of streets near our schools. As a City Councilmember, I have worked to bring together neighbors and City staff to effectively address traffic issues in our neighborhoods. As Mayor, I will continue this collaborative approach – when all voices are heard and included at the table, there is buy-in and understanding, resulting in more successful outcomes.
4. Pasadena Transit service is currently limited in many Pasadena neighborhoods, with service stopping at 7pm and not even provided to some neighborhoods on Sundays. In addition, many bus stops in Pasadena lack basic amenities like shade and seating. With so many older adults and other residents who cannot drive a vehicle, how can the City improve the comfort and convenience of its local bus service?
The City’s most recent Short Range Transit Plan completed in April 2019 has a series of recommendations that include extended weekday hours, increased weekday frequency, and adding Sunday service to more routes. The greatest challenge to this is funding. Currently, the Sunday service is funded through a 3 year grant from the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program to operate 8am– 5pm. Once the grant is finished in 2021, I support continuing with the service – it will cost $650,000 annually beyond current funding to do so. I believe we must focus efforts on funding this needed service through a combination of grant funding, our general budget, and increasing ridership. The same would be the case with extending weekday hours past 7pm. Improving the comfort of our bus stops is also needed and I believe we can find creative approaches to addressing this issue such as, potential collaborative funding with our public arts grants, partnering with local business districts, seeking additional grant funding, and looking more closely our departmental budgets to find the resources necessary for these important amenities.
5. According to Pasadena’s Climate Action Plan, transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the City of Pasadena, responsible for an estimated 52% of emissions. Gas-powered mobility is also the largest source of greenhouse gases in California, with GHGs increasing in recent years as more Californians purchase larger and less fuel-efficient SUVs and trucks (almost 60% of new car sales in California were SUVs in 2018), and drive more miles. Despite the growing popularity of electric vehicles statewide, these developments are now threatening to derail the state’s 2030 climate goals. What can the City do to support greater use of sustainable transportation and reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions?
The City of Pasadena has been engaged on issues related to the environment and sustainability since adopting the Climate Action Plan as part of our Green City Action Plan in 2006. The plans provide a list of initiatives intended to guide the City’s practices and policy development as they relate to our environmental commitment. The Action Plan includes water conservation, intelligent transportation systems, short range transit plan, zero waste strategic plan, a power integrated resource plan, bicycle transportation action plan, urban water management, and general plan elements regarding land use and mobility and encouragement of sustainable development practices. The Climate Action Plan generally follows the State’s goals on reduction of GHGs. I agree with community advocates who call for more aggressive goals and the addition of more specific benchmarks in the Plan so that we can track progress. As Mayor, I will call up the Plans for Council review and will advocate for the adoption of more aggressive goals as well the inclusion of specific benchmarks in all areas. In reviewing the City’s Climate Action Plan, I also will focus our attention on electric charging stations and our City’s fleet vehicles. As a City, we need to aggressively expand the number of electric charging stations throughout the City to encourage the use of electric vehicles. As part of this approach, I will advocate for our City staff to work with local businesses to increase private charging stations. Our Climate Action Plan includes the City’s fleet vehicles, but needs to have specific goals and action plans for converting to electric vehicles as aggressively as possible. As a City, we must lead by example and expanding the use of electric vehicles for City functions is the most visible approach to exercising this leadership.
6. Pasadena lacks a safe network of separated lanes for bicycling, scooting, and other modes of micro-mobility. The few existing routes too often consist of narrow, unprotected striped lanes placed directly adjacent to fast-moving cars or shared use lanes marked with ‘sharrows’ in which people on bikes are put in direct conflict with drivers. The lack of safe space for these users often results in sidewalk riding, where conflicts with pedestrians are more likely to take place. Do you support building out a robust and connected bike/roll network with protected lanes to enable residents of all ages and abilities to get around safely, and if so, how will you work to make this a reality?
I support safe streets for all users, pedestrians, bicyclist and cars, and have supported buffered bicycle lanes throughout the City. Overall, I favor robust and connected bike routes throughout the City. In working to achieve this network, I recognize that we have to actively engage our community in this discussion so that we get the maximum support for this going forward. Too often, in discussions over these issues, we have not had the many varied voices in the community present and engaged. I recognize that these discussions are likely to include strong opinions and sharp differences. Notwithstanding, we must have these robust exchanges in order to move forward towards the goal of having Pasadena be not only a safe environment for bikes, but a City that encourages this significant alternative to gas-powered transportation.