Friday, July 24, 2009

Impressive Folks We've got in Pomona

In my Council Update on Tuesday, what with all of the DPOA, VPD, and Fire things to report, I neglected to report on a minor item that came up later in the evening. On the agenda was an administrative item regarding that budget that could very well have missed everyone's notice. It was a consent agenda item, which means that it very well could have pass quickly without debate, as did the appointment of Mr. Torres to the VPD.

The item had to do with the City of Pomona selling to the City of West Hollywood, some of its Prop A Transportation funds. Pomona, who needs general funds money more than it needs transportation projects (presumably) is selling the Prop A funds for $.55 on the dollar (interestingly my own research shows that both West Covina and Ranch Palos Verdes sold Prop A money to West Hollywood and got $.77 on the dollar, I wonder what they're doing with all the Prop A money they're buying on the cheap?). Stepping up to speak on the issue was Pomona resident Hank Fung.

Mr. Fung has spoken on many issues over the course of the time that I've been attending council meetings and while I don't always agree with his point of view, he always makes compelling, well researched and thought-out arguments. For this particular issue, he asked that the council look at these funds in a different way in the future. He had his research and pointed out that Prop B funds can be used for a wide variety of projects beyond bus service. They can be used for special transportation such as taking seniors or students on field trips, they can be used to supplement the school district's transportation programs, they can be used to build and maintain bus shelters at the bus stops within the city, they can be use (and here's the good one) for parking structures at transportation centers, such as downtown near the downtown Pomona train depot. He noted that other cities have used their funds in this manner, using the additional parking for rail users during the day and for other uses during the evenings (Fox, Glass House, Restaurants, Art Galleries/Museums, etc.).

The council listened intently and it seems that they had not considered such uses for these funds. One wonders why someone of Mr. Fung's knowledge and interest hasn't been tapped to server on a commission or board. I don't know if he has an interest, but he certainly seems to understand issues and come up with solutions. If he has been approached, I'm just sorry that he hasn't felt that he could serve. If he hasn't been approached, shame on our city.

I wish to personally thank Mr. Fung for helping our city. So maybe next year, instead of getting $.55 on the dollar, we'll be able to get some real value for our community instead of exporting it somewhere else.

14 comments:

Ed said...

I was going to do a post about this item, so I'm glad Mr. Fung stepped up. I'm curious how often the city has sold Prop A funds. My cursory google search as I was posting the Council Agenda showed another swap, which I think was in 2007. Quite ironic since we might be the only city in this area without any covered bus stops.

Has Mr. Fung volunteered to be on a city commission?

John Clifford said...

Not that know of. I'm sure he'll probably see these posts and perhaps he'll respond.

John Clifford said...

Oh, and Ed. I wouldn't be surprised if Prop A money couldn't be used for some bicycle related infrastructure as well. Now it's your turn to lobby for it. :-)

Anduhrew said...

I was just thinking that. I wonder if any of it can be used for Bicycle lanes. also there is one covered bus stop on garey and franklin. no one uses it thought because the same homeless fellow is there at most hours of the day and sleeps there at night. There's enough shade from the trees thought and not like it rains much in So Cal.

Ed said...

Sorry, I forgot about the ONE bus stop (it is quite impressive, if not a little lonely). Of course, I'm not sure the absence of rain for 9 months will bring much consolation when it's raining. ;-) And the frequent Pomona pedestrian wielding an umbrella because of the sun, suggests the city's investment in street trees mirrors its investment in covered bus stops.

Prop A = bicycles in Pomona?

Isn't this the city that wants to use Safe Routes to School funding to close Monroe street? And don't forget the Council rejected how much money for the development of a bike lane connecting to Claremont's Thompson's creek trail? I believe Calwatch has an opinion on that one.

But kudos to Mr. Fung for speaking up. The Council is a part-time position and whenever possible, residents with additional knowledge should step up with advice.

tibbi said...

can transportaion funds be used for parking?

that would be awesome.

calwatch said...
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calwatch said...

There is a SPECIFIC way that Prop A funds can be used for parking, and that's for park and ride lots. But joint use parking structures qualify, as long as the daytime use is transit related. Claremont's Village West parking structure (above the American Apparel) is an example of a parking structure funded with transit funds, as is the Metrolink parking structure in Downtown Covina.

And the Thompson Creek bike trail was a total waste of funds - my sources tell me that it was a low six figures for design, all thrown away into the trash thanks to a bunch of whiny neighbors and an ambitious city councilwoman eager to please, damn the rest of the city.

Ed said...

Calwatch, thanks for addressing the bike trail fiasco. When I look at the evolution of the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle, from a rarely used paved path to now a bike/pedestrian superhighway, it's amazing to think some neighbors along the Burke-Gilman expressed the same concerns that Norma bought into.

Seattle (rated one of the most livable cities) vs Pomona (rated......Hmmmm) :-(

John Clifford said...

I was at council when the bike trail came up and couldn't believe that we were turning down that much money (for the second time). It made me so disgusted that it could have dissuaded me from going to additional meetings. And I'm sure that it would have turned off others without my hard skin.

Hank Fung said...

For the record:

- I did sit on the General Plan Community Advisory Committee when the Pomona General Plan was being prepared by Dyett & Bhatia (as a city staff appointment). Although there were more than a couple of dozen appointees, perhaps a third of so of those actually made it all the way to the end, attending most of the meetings and collecting their certificate.
- Of course, after that, the City Council at the time changed, ripped apart our work, and then the city went through multiple planning directors. Allegedly the city then paid someone else to continue on the plan using the Dyett Bhatia work as a foundation, but to my knowledge that went nowhere. Now, with the city budget, the General Plan as a priority is irrelevant. This soured me on future participation in the formal commission process, especially when council members claimed that there was not enough "community input", when we had dozens of people show up and give their input - with many of those same council members or future council members in attendance!

- After the GPCAC completed its work, Councilwoman Lantz did nominate me for Community Life Commission. However, at that time, I had started my Master's program at Cal Poly Pomona, which involved evening classes that conflict with those meetings. Therefore, I respectfully turned down her offer, and she later appointed Primitivo Castro, and now the CLC member from District 4 is Eurydice Turk.

If you have any other questions, feel free to post here or email me at hfung@csupomona.edu.

John Clifford said...

Thank you Mr. Fung for reminding us (or informing us) of your community service. I do understand that it can be frustrating and appreciate all the work that people like you do for our community, without pay, and often seemingly without appreciation.

I'm glad that we were able to tap into your extensive knowledge and insight.

DiDi said...

I was on the city's General Plan Community Advisory Committee along with Hank and he really IS impressive! He was insightful, resourceful and committed! I hope to see Hank running for Council or for Commissions that can/will make a difference for Pomona. Hank is the REAL THING !!! And a great Lincoln Park Neighbor !!!

calwatch said...
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