How we can defeat the 405 Toll Lanes! And also… Meet your OCTA Board!


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You and I can defeat this 405 Toll Lanes plot!

But first off, when talking about OCTA, (the Orange County Tranportation Authority) it’s important for us to distinguish two distinct groups of people:

  • the highly-paid OCTA staff who do the research and make recommendations for our County’s vast transportation infrastructure;
  • and the (currently) 16 voting members of the Board, almost all elected politicians, who make the decisions.

OCTA CEO Kempton with his former boss.

The first thing we notice about the OCTA staff, from CEO Will Kempton on down to the slick publicists and lobbyists, is the undeniable fact that, far from being objective conveyors of the three “Alternatives” for improving the 405 Freeway, they have been shilling hard for Alternative 3 – the one with the two Toll Lanes.  (And they’ve been deceptive at it too, to the point of lying – an accusation I’ll back up in a future article.)

We should ask ourselves:  WHY is OCTA staff so enamored of the Toll Lane option?  It’s been clear that that’s the fact, but we can only guess the reason for it.  Well… the best answer is that, institutionally, the more money comes through their agency, the more projects they can administer, the more power they have, the more their existence, payroll, budget is justified – it’s just the natural tendency of a bureaucracy.

The first two Alternatives – one new lane for $1.3 billion, or two new lanes for $1.4 billion – are a relatively simple affair:  the construction will be done by 2019 (all things going smoothly) and OCTA will have to move on to a new project.

But the Tolls from Alternative 3, as we have just recently discovered, are projected to bring in a stream of BILLIONS over the coming decades, enabling OCTA and friendly politicians to fund any number of pet projects, with no public oversight!  For a bureaucracy that has generally been tightly constrained by law and by voters, THIS is a wet dream.

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Enough now about the OCTA Staff.  The important thing is the politicians on the Board who will be making the decision between these three alternatives.  Like most politicians, they are a  mixed bag of well-meaning, scheming, confused and scared.

And they are subject, nonstop, to the expert, slick lobbying of OCTA staff, who COVET THE TOLL LANES.

The other side, the side that doesn’t want Toll Lanes, DOESN”T HAVE ANY LOBBYISTS – except for a few of us scruffy bloggers and activists, and YOU.  So first, let’s learn what the arguments are against what OCTA staff has been saying;  and then we will meet the 16 members of this Board.  Okay?

This is the latest fact sheet, from my colleague “Mayor Quimby” (with some input from me) :

THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE 405 TOLL LANES (Alt. 3)

1)  Voters (and we) don’t believe that this is what they approved in Measure M.

  • Measure M repeatedly referred to “carpools” and mentioned “freeway” over 150 times, while never using the words “toll”, “Express Lane”, or “Hot Lane” A vote to approve tolls on the 405 will never be forgiven in Orange County.
  • Cynical smart voters will believe that the real reason behind this conversion is the projected $1.5 billion net revenue stream to create a slush fund for politicians’ pet projects, not the alleged capacity increase.
  • Converting the carpool lane to a 3+  lane  squeezes out 2/3 of the vehicles that would ride for free under existing 2+ rules. This is not done for any capacity increase, but solely for revenue purposes.  (Read the Stantec report).
  • Regardless of how OCTA staff and consultants attempt to frame this as delivering what Measure M promised, and more,  this argument  will fail to convince the vast majority of people if they are presented with the alternative idea that the real reason is more revenue without the accountability of Measure M and a Bailout of the failed 73 toll road.
  • Any elected official who votes for this must go into any future election knowing that hit pieces will remind voters that he or she voted to put tolls on our freeways.

2)  There are many reasons to be skeptical about the “more capacity” argument that is alleged to be the centerpiece of the push for Alternative 3:

  • There are significant discrepancies between the traffic forecasts published in the EIR and the more recently completed Phase 2 traffic and revenue forecast done by Stantec for Parsons.
  • Forecasting toll road traffic and revenue is notoriously unreliable, not just in Orange County but nationally and internationally. You need look no further than the 73 San Joaquin Hills Toll Road, which has lost 18.8% of its vehicle trips since 2008, and now operates at a dismal 42.5% of its projected volume.
  • The vast majority of drivers will go to great lengths to avoid tolls.
  • The 405 has substantially different characteristics from the 91, including the availability of alternate routes.  Projections based on experience along the 91, where there are no alternative routes, may not be valid. OCTA estimates that during peak hours, 15% to 30% of vehicles now use alternative routes to the 405.
  • OCTA glibly claims higher “peak hour capacity” in one segment for Alternative 3.  The Stantec forecast shows that there would be 4,668,085 vehicle per year in the five free lanes, and 1,100,000 in the 2 toll lanes. On an annual basis, the two toll lanes would handle 550,000 vehicles per lane per year, while the five free lanes would each carry over 933,000 vehicles per year.
  • For a few peak hours per weekday in each direction, implementing toll lanes may increase capacity. Or not. Toll road revenue and volume projections are notoriously unreliable.
  • OCTA has glossed over questions about what happens at the LA  County line, including the reduced capacity and increased congestion caused by changing the rules for the new carpool lane-to-carpool lane connectors,  as drivers in 2+ carpools, 3+ carpools, and drivers paying tolls are forced to merge back and forth across lanes.

3)  The “public outreach” program suffers from inherent dishonesty and lack of breadth.

  • OCTA made a tremendous strategic mistake by “hiding the ball” and failing to acknowledge the projected $2.1 billion in gross revenue projected in the Stantec report.
  • OCTA has glossed over the fact that in the segment between the 22 and the 605, where the $277 million West County Connector project is already adding the additional three mile carpool lane and carpool-to-carpool connectors that will be converted to the toll lanes under their plan.
  • Very few Orange County voters are aware of a plan to begin adding tolls to the 405 Freeway and eventually to every other freeway, except in areas within ¼ mile of the project where there are specific NIMBY issues.
  • OCTA staff failed dismally at real outreach, substituting propaganda efforts for real inclusion. Now they are reaping the backlash.
  • The ultimate result of this failure to achieve broad consensus in advance will be lawsuits that will substantially delay completion of any project.

Contacting The OCTA Board

We know how busy you Orange Juice readers are!   Some of you are the very movers and shakers of our society, while many of you are folks who have to work your asses off all day to put food on your family, and most of you have no time to contact the OCTA Board members individually.  So, first, here is a handy link for you to click and write them all at the same time!  Just. Click. HERE.

And now, Meet the Members of the Board.

Currently there are sixteen voting members – normally there would be 17 but old Don Bankhead fell victim to the Fullerton recall and there’s not enough time to replace him before the August vote.  And there’s a non-voting member from CalTrans with whom we won’t bother ourselves.

What we do have is all five Supervisors, nine Mayors or Councilmembers from across the County, and two “public members.”  I will break them down here into three groups:

  1. Members who are on the fence (or we haven’t reached yet) and need to hear from you;
  2. Members who we are pretty sure will vote against the toll lanes who could use your words of thanks and encouragement;  and
  3. Members we’re pretty pessimistic about who seem to have drunk the OCTA koolaid or see an angle in the tolls that will help them – but they should hear from us too, just in case!

And over the next few weeks I will probably move some of them from one group to another.

Most of them prefer not to say (on the record) how they are going to vote before the vote actually comes up; apparently it’s like a judge who has to wait until each last bit of evidence comes in; but they do give hints.  And we need to make sure AT LEAST EIGHT OF THESE FINE PEOPLE VOTE AGAINST THE TOLL OPTION!

On the Fence (or unreached) – call/write for sure!

Supervisor Janet Nguyen 714.834.3110 – Janet.Nguyen@ocgov.com

All we know of the Black April Queen so far is that she responded to Westminster activist Diana Carey, “Why would you be against Alternative 3?” as though she had never heard any of the arguments against it.  You and I need to remedy that.  Make sure she hears from you, especially if you are in her district – Santa Ana, Westminster, Garden Grove, and the Viet part of Fountain Valley.  Janet is safely in office until 2017, BUT this supremely ambitious and skilled politician should NOT want to pursue her career with the black mark of “405 Toll Lanes” following her.  And we fear the baneful influence of Mayor Pulido on the Supervisor.  CALL JANET!

Supervisor Shawn Nelson  714.834.3440 Audra.Adams@ocgov.com

One of our county’s more intelligent electeds, I’m confident that if Shawn hasn’t already seen the taxpayer ripoff and voter deception comprising Alternative 3, he’ll be seeing it soon enough.  I have a call in to him, and hope to shift him to the “optimistic” column down below, shortly.   But all of you in his district – basically, the north county – make his phone ring off the hook.  Oh, sure you say, the 405 is far away from you.  But what was that they said after WWII – “First they came for the 405 … then there was nobody left to protect the 57 …” or something along those lines.

Supervisor Bill Campbell 714.834.3330  Bill.Campbell@ocgov.com

Right, these Supes ARE dealing with a real sh–tstorm of their own making right now, now that you mention it.  But just maybe the termed-out Campbell (soon to be replaced by Spitzer) will want to be remembered for something not corrupt and cronyish, something very unlike Busta-Mauk-Gate, something like saving the 405 from Toll Lanes rather than succumbing one more time to the blandishments of insiders.  Everyone call Bill Campbell, but especially if you live in Anaheim, Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Villa Park,  or Yorba Linda!

[UPDATE - Remember - Campbell was one of the first to turn against the Fairgrounds Swindle when it became obvious to him that Dave Ellis wanted to pursue everything secretively with no public oversight!  So you see, there is hope for Bill.]

Garden Grove Mayor William Dalton (714) 741-5104   mayor@garden-grove.org

We haven’t spoken to the Garden Grove Mayor yet, but I have concerns about him.  For one thing, he removed Robin Marcario from the relevant city commission when she was speaking out convincingly against Alternative 3.  For another thing, Mayor Pulido’s plan to connect his toll-lane-funded streetcar to Garden Grove is probably at least partly a ploy to get Dalton on his side.  CALL YOUR MAYOR, GARDEN GROVERS!  Let him know his vote to eviscerate the 405 will be remembered angrily, in great contrast to his predecessor Broadwater’s BROADENING of the 22!

Lake Forest Councilman Peter Herzog – (949) 461-3420   pherzog@lakeforestca.gov

All I know about Councilman Herzog is that he voted against putting “In God We Trust” on council chamber walls, always a brave vote in Orange County, and one I agree with as a Constitutionalist who respects diversity.  But whether or NOT you agree with Peter on this particular issue, it tends to suggest he is an independent thinker, which augurs well for me calling him tomorrow and sending him our FACT SHEET.  YOU CALL PETER TOO!

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The so-called “public members” Gregory Winterbottom and Michael Hennessey, who can apparently only be contacted thru OCTA – 714-560-5443, wknowles@octa.net.  Now this is puzzling:  The Board has two “public members” who are 1)  chosen by the Board itself, not the public, and 2)  apparently inaccessible to the public.  Was this some kind of private Orwellian joke of Lou Correa’s?  (Lou who devised this system when he was an assemblyman.)  I am still waiting, and hoping, to hear back from Winterbottom and Hennessey, as to how we can contact them directly.  They may be great guys;  they have very impressive resumes.  I will keep you all apprised!


Winterbottom and Hennessey.
“Public” … somehow?

We’re Optimistic about these ones – but call/write anyway to encourage them!

Fountain Valley Councilman Larry Crandall 714-593-4410 fvcrandall@yahoo.com, and fvproud@fountainvalley.org. I spoke to Larry last week, and he said he was really on the fence between Alternatives 2 and 3; and then he uttered, as though undigested, OCTA’s two favorite lines of spin. So I sent him the above FACT SHEET, and will follow up to get his thoughts. He seems like an honest guy who should come to the right decision, and he will be either running soon for re-election or for the water board, so WE NEED to make sure he ends up on the right side of history and doesn’t have to worry about any hit pieces on this issue!

UPDATE:  We have had a very encouraging meeting with Mr. Crandall, who is running for Water Board this November, and who abstained at the FV City Council meeting on this subject, but has given us reason to put him in the NO ON TOLLS category!

Orange Mayor Carolyn Cavecche  (714) 744-2200 citycouncil@cityoforange.org

The feisty and vivacious Orange Mayor is one of the members who have been very helpful at explaining to me the workings of OCTA, and she’s previously spoken out against Alternative 3 at several public meetings.  Her reasoning was that “one lane paid for by the public was being taken away from the public;”  Quimby and I have now armed her with plenty more arguments.    E-mail the Mayor at the above address, especially if you’re from Orange, to thank her for her strong and principled stand.  (I like that address because that means her colleagues Councilmen Dumitru and Bilodeau will see it too, and probably grit their teeth at Carolyn doing the right thing that they probably wouldn’t.)

 Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway – 714-765-5166  lorri@lorrigalloway.com

The progressive firebrand seems a natural fit for opposing a scam like this;  and I have shown her the two big features this has in common with her current crusade against Anaheim’s hotel tax giveaway – #1.  It is a ripoff of working class taxpayers, who pay most of the Measure M sales tax; and #2.  We should be able to vote on the Toll Lanes, just as Anaheimers should be able to vote on any future corporate subsidies.  I think we have her convinced, although she is one who doesn’t want to commit until the actual vote happens.  Call Lorri to encourage her to stand firm on this progressive issue, and thank her for everything else she does!

Supervisor Pat Bates – 714.834.3550  PatBates@ocgov.com

We have hopes for Supervisor Bates because she voted against the toll lane alternative earlier in a subcommittee (I’ll try to track down the details on that.)  Hopefully she will remain consistent on that (as she also tries to find her conscience on the BustaMauk issue.)  Does anyone out there know her?  South Countiers from Irvine to San Clemente, Pat is your Supervisor!  Call her, e-mail her, and make sure she sees the Fact Sheet above!


Supervisor John Moorlach – 714.834.3220 john.moorlach@ocgov.com

The Moorlach, it is said, has been asking the toughest questions about the Toll Lanes at recent meetings, and when I spoke to him last month he told me he’s been “very frustrated” with how the OC’s toll lanes have generally degenerated into “self-perpetuating debt machines.”  That’s a good sign.  He is my supervisor (and yours too if you’re from around Huntington, Newport, Costa Mesa, and points west.)  But he won’t take my calls now – could it be because I often depict him as the Sasquatch?  He should know that I do that with fondness.  Call The Moorlach and make sure he stands firm against Alternative 3 – especially as a resident of Costa Mesa, a city that will be really screwed over by the toll lanes.

UPDATE:  Judging by his latest “Moorlach Update” or whatever he calls it, The Moorlach sounds SOLID.  Thank him.

The Hard Cases

These will be tough – but call/write them anyway!
Remember how Jesus has hopes for even the greatest sinners.
And DON’T call them “Toll Trolls!”

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido – 714-647-6900         mpulido@santa-ana.org   The other three “hard cases” are all termed out, but Miguel is frequently referred to as “Mayor For Life,” as he seems to be able to regularly squelch all opposition in his town.  So a connecting thread here is that all four of them, besides being lobbyists at heart, are not currently worried about re-election.  It was Miguel who let the cat out of the bag at a recent OCTA meeting, by tabling his talk of a Santa Ana – Anaheim – Garden Grove streetcar dear to his heart until such time as the Alternative 3 Toll Lanes were decided on.  A few days later Mayor Quimby obtained the Stantec report detailing the billions expected from the Tolls, and suddenly the Slush Fund Scenario fell into place.  Call Miguel, you Santanans especially.  JUST SAY NO.

Tustin Councilman Jerry “Toll Road” Amante   (714) 573-3010  jamante@tustinca.org

Well, there you have it.  That was already his nickname.  He loves the Toll Roads that go through Tustin and Irvine.  And he is termed out.  And he is already working as a lobbyist, under the loathsome Jeff Flint, who brought you the marriage-killing Proposition 8.  How do we get to him, I don’t know.  But Tustiners at least call this fellow and let him know you don’t appreciate him spreading this Toll Fever across the county.  Well, the rest of us sure don’t!

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Huntington Beach Mayor Don Hansen – 714-536-5553 dhansen@surfcity-hb.org, CFikes@surfcity-hb.org  This hardcore rightwinger – my own Mayor – did come to see reason and bow to public pressure to oppose the Banning Street Bridge, so I was thinking there COULD be hope for him here … but he really does seem to believe that Toll Roads Everywhere are the Inevitable Wave of the Future and to be embraced.  Roundly rejected by all of Costa Mesa when he went to spread his Toll Road Gospel there, he’s now tossing around what he calls “Alternative 3 Lite,” that contains some concessions to CM which he hopes will overcome their objections.  (Sounds a little like Rape or Murder Lite.  Stand your ground, Goat Hill.)  My Mayor won’t talk to me now, possibly because I once made fun of his “Red Zone.”  So YOU call him, e-mail him, bombard him!  He wants to be Supervisor in 2014, The Next Moorlach – does he really want to run as Toll Lane Hansen?

Oh!  Oh!  Huntington Beachers and everyone else in the area!  Monday the 16th is the Huntington Beach Council meeting where that august body weighs in, and THAT vote could be close.  Come and speak out, 6 pm!  UPDATE, 7/17 – Victory for the people.  Well, sort of.  The Council voted, 4-3, in a very bipartisan way, to reject Toll Lanes and recommend Alternative 2.  But Mayor Hansen remains a steadfast Toll Lane Booster, and at this point will be defying his Council and backing Tolls on the Board.  Here is his “reasoning,” such as I could decipher…

And finally, the Chairman of the OCTA Board:

Laguna Niguel Mayor Paul Glaab  -  (949) 362-4300  pglaab@cityoflagunaniguel.org

 Don’t worry, the “chairman” of the OCTA Board doesn’t really have any special power, more than the others.  But he did put his name to an utter piece of OCTA Staff pro-Toll-Lane propaganda in the Daily Pilot the other day, which earns him the signal honor of being the only Board member to be represented here by a cariacature.  (Which actually does do him justice.)  I hear that he is also termed out, AND also working as a lobbyist.  Call him if you know him and tell him … well, that we’re not falling for his nonsense, I don’t know what else.  Our own Ron and Ana Winship have written a good response to his piece in the Pilot, which we hope the Pilot prints, but either way, I’ll wrap up with it.  Heeere’s the Winships – and all of you are hereby able to write a letter this good:

re. “Commentary: Setting the record straight on the 405″ by Paul Glaab, 7/7/12

With all due respect to Mayor Glaab – or whoever wrote this 405 toll-lane puff piece:

Let’s start with the claim that “Measure M2 taxpayer dollars will not be used to build any toll lanes.” Really! Can anyone explain to us how toll lanes will be built without using our $1.4 billion? Toll-lane advocates have always asked the taxpayer to bear the full cost for any proposed freeway widening. They also want to snatch the proposed two new lanes right back for a slush-fund project – which will only require an additional $400 million in Public Bonds Indebtedness. How many years will that take to payback again?

If toll-backers have their way, the taxpayer will be ponying up $1.3 to $1.4 billion, AND putting up with FIVE long years of disruptive construction…just to end up with pretty much what is already here right now: five free lanes.

If folks want to sign up for this program, buy a transponder or list their license plate and pay unspecified tolls to go toward funding an “unsupervised pet project”, they can do that. But it’s certainly not what taxpayers voted for when they approved Measure M years ago, nor recently. If the OCTA thinks this is such a grand idea, why not put all three choices before the voters? Can’t afford it?

Your assumptive claim that Alternative 3 will “move traffic faster” is projected base speculation at best. No thank you OCTA, sign us up for Alternative 2 – and, if you REALLY can’t find the extra $100 million for that, make it Alternative 1. Let’s Keep our Freeways FREE!

Ron & Anna Winship

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Our Coverage Thus Far:

AND NOW, somebody has created the excellent…

No 405 Tolls.Com!

Again, E-mail ALL the OCTA Board Members by clicking HERE.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County. Performs regularly with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem, and at regular concerts at the Huntington Beach Central Library.