March 25, 2004 - From the January, 2004 issue

MIR Readers Chime In On 2004's Infrastructure And Public Investment Priorities

MIR surveyed many of its readers for their opinion on what will/ought to be the priority agenda items for infrastructure and public investment in 2004. The following is a select compilation of our reader's thoughtful responses.

State and local governments need to maintain the current level of investment in acquiring land for parks, habitat and protection of water supply. The voter-approved bond funds in Props. 40 and 50 need to be appropriated by the Legislature, but there are major projects in the pipeline that could be stalled Coastal projects like the restoration of Ballona Wetlands, and multi-purpose urban parks projects like Ascot Reservoir need a strong endorsement from the new Governor- and a commitment of funding.

-Mary Nichols,

Director, UCLA Institute of the Environment

The state needs to address global warming. California is expected to lose 30% of the drinking water from snowmelt over the next few decades. We have 1600 miles of coastline at risk from the oceans rising. This is likely the environmental problem of this century; it's time to get started!

-Diane Wittenberg,

President, Calif. Climate Action Registry

For the next several years, infrastructure will again take a backseat to budget cuts, both at the state and local levels. Over the last several years, we at the county have been struggling to meet the demand for the safety net services we provide and to maintain the health care facilities we operate. However, the facilities most in need of investment probably are the parks and courts.

-David Janssen,

CAO, County of Los Angeles

The single biggest need for California infrastructure is to identify and capture an adequate, permanent source of capital to meet the myriad needs of both maintenance and new construction. To continue to identify and prioritize projects without addressing the on-going and growing revenue deficiency is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic while ignoring the gaping hole in the hull.

-Assemblyman Lloyd Levine

We must seize the rare opportunity to fix the structure of state and local finance to establish healthy incentives for land use and investment-giving cities and counties stable revenues, the ability to plan for the future of their communities, and real incentives to develop a balanced mix of jobs and housing.

-Robert Hertzberg,Esq.

Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw

In 2004, the City's previously established commitment to environmentally sensitive building design and construction will come to fruition with the completion of first round of LEED certified City building projects. As a regional leader in this effort, this represents a milestone event for the City.

-Deborah Weintraub, AIA

City Architect, City of Los Angeles

As California's population will increase to near 50 million in the next 25 years, our Water Resources Group sees an urgent need to construct and implement key water storage and transmission projects at the local and statewide levels. Also, state and regional agencies must devise a reasonable approach to water quality regulation that is protective of human health and the environment yet supportive of the growing need to maximize available water supplies.


– Edward J. Casey

Managing Partner/Chair, Water Resources Group,

Weston, Benshoof, Rochefort, Rubalcava, & MacCuish

Before we can talk about prioritizing the State's physical infrastructure needs-and the needs are pretty transparent-California has to get its fiscal infrastructure in order. A structural financial deficit that puts public investment and public expenditures at perpetual risk will render moot any discussion about anything else. The State must face the grim reality that some cuts and some new revenues have to be the principal components of getting the State of California off its financial back.

-L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky,

Despite the revenue shortfall at the State level, we must invest in our transportation infrastructure, especially in the LA region where we have projects ready to go now! In addition, we must invest in improving education and health care to improve outcomes for all Californians.

-Rusty Hammer,

President and CEO,

LA Area Chamber of Commerce

In 2004, I am hoping that we will see more public support and more support from our elected leaders for investment in the necessary infrastructure. If we really want to make California a job-friendly state, then we need to have the transportation network, the power grid, and other necessary services to support our economy.

-Julie Bornstein,

Executive Director,

Keston Infrastructure Institute , USC

Projects that should be funded and started in 2004 include: the 710 freeway, both from the port and a solution (tunneling?) for South Pasadena; full remote check-in for airports; a solution to reach the Westside from the Valley with significantly less congestion; and, statewide, a commitment to spend the gas tax on relieving freeway bottlenecks.

-Viggo Butler,

Chairman LAEDC's Critical Infrastructure Committee


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