Powered by Max Banner Ads
Today’s OCTA Vote Line-up:
In a little over an hour, the Orange County Transit Authority Board of Directors will vote on which if any proposal (or which hybrid proposal) to adopt regarding expansion of Interstate 405 (the San Diego Freeway) between State Highway 133 (the Laguna Freeway) and Interstate 605 (the San Gabriel River Freeway). At the prodding of OCTA Staff, this was to have been the vote (postponed once already) that would firmly implant toll lanes into the coastal middle of Orange County’s freeway system. It has turned out to be far rougher travel than OCTA had expected. (If you haven’t yet read Mayor Quimby’s excellent “state of play” story from yesterday, please do!)
OCTA had come up with three initial proposals. Alternative 1 would build one new “free” (or “general use”) lane in each direction along this route. Alternative 2 would build two new general use lanes. (It has recently been improved by the Orange Juice Blog “hive mind” to become “Alternative 2 Lite” — something probably even more palatable to the Seal Beach area; read all about it here.) Alternative 3 would leave us with one fewer HOV land, one more general use lane, and two new toll lanes — apparently a major step in allowing wealthy people to drive from San Diego to Los Angeles and beyond without having to mix with the rabble. We get their money; they get to set aside one of the biggest headaches of Southern California living — and lose much of the motive to maintain and improve the “second-class” freeway system for the rest of us.
Today’s vote is actually two-related votes:
(1) Do we do toll lanes (and if so, will it be the original Alternative 3 or some watered down hybrid)?
(2) If not toll lanes, then what — if anything?
It’s pretty clear that at a minimum Alternative 1 would pass, so we don’t expect to end up empty-handed. (Who wants to look at the electorate and say “yeah, we had the chance to widen the 405, but we decided to just let you suffer”?) But the advantage of Alternative 1 for toll road proponents is that, by widening the right-of-way, it leaves open the possibility of future conversion to an Alternative 3 (or modified 3A, 3B … 3Z) toll lane system — once the public has been properly “educated.” It could also lead to future conversion to Alternative 2 – but that raises the question of why we spend more money get less rather than building out the whole freeway now.
So the “pro-toll” position is: Alternative 3, if possible; Alternative 1, if not; and avoid settling the matter with Alternative 2.
The “no-toll” position is: Alternative 2, if possible; Alternative 1, if not; and avoid settling the matter with Alternative 3. (Actually, Alternative 3 would be litigated to death, so the matter wouldn’t really be “settled.”)
I’ve divided the 16 voting members (by my count, Vern has said it’s 15) into five groups. Pro-Toll, Lean Pro, Undecided, Lean No, and No-Toll. Where someone has at different times been assigned to more than one position, I’ve moved them no further than one of the “lean” camps. One addition to that category is Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, who has been a supporter of tolls but who is facing a stiff challenge to his re-election by Santa Ana Council Member David Benavides — and who may wet his finger and hold it to the wind to see whether he could lose his position in part on his vote today.
Vern Nelson will be liveblogging later today: this post simply sets the stage for today’s fireworks. Here’s the current OJB Hive Mind thinking on who belongs where as the vote approaches.
Pro Tolls (aside from OCTA Staff led by Will Kempton):
Jerry Amante of Tustin
Paul Glaab of Laguna Niguel
Don Hansen of Huntington Beach
Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana
Greg Winterbottom of “the public”
Supervisor Janet Nguyen
Supervisor Bill Campbell
Bill Dalton of Garden Grove
Peter Herzog of Lake Forest
Michael Hennessey of “the Public”
Supervisor Pat Bates
Larry Crandall of Fountain Valley
Supervisor John Moorlach
Supervisor Shawn Nelson
Lorri Galloway of Anaheim
Carolyn Cavecche of Orange
Any proposal needs nine votes to pass. The toll lane proposal, Alternative 3, would almost have to run the table of the “Position Unknown” voters to win; that seems unlikely but not impossible. If Alternative 3 (or one of its variations) doesn’t pass, then the question is: can Alternative 2 pass? Here the sides switch: if all of the “no toll” side supports Alternative 2, then they only need three of the “Position Unknown” group to win. (It would not shock me to see Pulido join that vote for appearance’s sake — but probably only if his vote would not be decisive.) If neither side can get past 8 votes, then it’s likely that they can scrape together the votes for Alternative 1 — and to set the stage for a future battle on down the line — ideally, from their perspective, at a time when they have caught the public napping.
Remember to tune in for Vern’s live-blog, coming up soon!