Panel Discussion Overview

Transformational Transportation:
Los Angeles on a High-Speed Recovery Track



The California High-Speed Rail project is coming to town, the Mayor’s 30/10 transit plan is gaining traction, and Southern California’s long love affair with the automobile is being tested as rail transit and pedestrian-oriented lifestyle options become increasingly appealing alternatives. On Friday, July 30, 2010, a distinguished panel moderated by California High Speed Rail Authority Board Member Richard Katz discussed the implementation and benefits of the 30/10 Plan, the movement toward sustainability as it affects urbanism, good planning principles for multi-modal transportation, and implementation challenges of the high-speed rail system with Los Angeles’ Union Station as its hub.


Richard Katz, CAHSRA, Metro, and Metrolink Board Member – PANEL MODERATOR

Richard Katz is the owner of a successful public policy and government relations firm based in Los Angeles, Richard Katz Consulting (RKC),Inc. RKC offers a wide variety of services, including strategic advice, message development, negotiations/ mediation and government relations strategies. RKC brings a vast knowledge of all levels of government and can guide clients through the maze of both bureaucratic and regulatory concerns. In addition, they can develop, direct and implement a communications strategy to specific stakeholders. Targeting interest groups and helping clients gain entry into organizations, stakeholders and corporations through their vast contacts and decades of relationships is their specialty.

Richard Katz was California’s lead negotiator for the landmark Colorado River Agreement between the State of California, the Federal Government, four California Water Agencies, and the six Colorado River Basin States, furthering his expertise as a negotiator on issues of statewide significance. Katz had already played a pivotal role in renegotiating $30 Billion worth of California’s Energy contracts and developing California’s Transportation Blueprint for the 21st Century, which the voters approved as Proposition 111 in 1990. Shortly after his election in June of 2005, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Katz to serve with him on the Governing Board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. After the horrific Metrolink accident in 2008, the Mayor appointed Katz to the California High Speed Rail Authority. In Jan. of 2003, Governor Davis appointed Katz his Senior Advisor on Energy and Water issues. In 2001 Katz was appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board, confirmed by the Senate and served for six years, occupying the water quality seat.

Katz was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1980 and served continuously for 16 years. As Democratic Leader in 1995, Katz led the Party back to majority status by winning 43 seats in the 1996 elections. California’s term limits law prohibited Katz from seeking re-election. For 10 years, Katz served as Chair of the powerful Assembly Transportation Committee. Katz authored Proposition 111, a 10 year Transportation Blueprint passed by the voters. He created the Congestion Management Plan, requiring cities and counties to measure and mitigate impacts of land use decisions on their streets, highways and transit systems. Katz also spearheaded numerous investigations of governmental waste. In addition to serving as Chair of the Transportation Committee, Katz worked in policy areas including education, environment, criminal justice and consumer issues. Some of his accomplishments include laws he wrote dealing with prison reform, groundwater protection, computer education, a $100 million school bus replacement program, Mono Lake restoration and landmark water market legislation. Katz was Chair of Angelenos for Better Classrooms, which led the successful 1997 campaign to pass a $2.4 billion L.A. school bond. Katz serves on the Executive Committee and Board of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley and the Boards of: Heal the Bay, Valley Presbyterian Hospital, The Children’s Community School, Project Grad, Encino Tarzana Hospital Foundation and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH).

A native of Los Angeles, Katz lives in Sherman Oaks with Wendy Mitchell, their 3 year old son Mitchell Robert and their two dogs.

Ed P. Reyes, Los Angeles City Council Member, Council District 1

Ed P. Reyes has served on the Los Angeles City Council since April 2001. A native of Northeast Los Angeles, Councilmember Reyes represents many of the neighborhoods he grew up in including Lincoln Heights and Cypress Park. As chair of the Los Angeles River Ad Hoc Committee, Reyes has brought a renewed focus to the once-neglected L.A. River. He spearheaded the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, a neighborhood-driven plan that includes enhancing water quality, environmental protection, increasing open space and improving flood control. The Plan, approved in May 2007, has paved way for the creation of more parks, pedestrian and bike paths, and wetlands along the River. Reyes was instrumental in the creation of two major Rivers parks at Taylor yard, once an old rail yard, and at the Cornfield, which is adjacent to Chinatown.

As chair of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee, Reyes has expanded the City’s affordable housing stock. He successfully pushed for Adaptive Reuse, or the conversion of abandoned buildings into housing, which enabled the construction of thousands of housing units City wide. Additionally, he helped establish Residential and Accessory Services, which permits residential development in commercial zones. As chair of the Metro Gold Line Authority the Councilmember Reyes also helped ensure that the $750 million Gold Line project was completed on time and on budget. Reyes attended UCLA where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree from UCLA’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Michael I. Schneider, Managing Partner, InfraConsult LLC

Michael Schneider is founder and managing partner of InfraConsult LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in the development and financing of sustainable infrastructure projects and solutions.   Most recently, Mike has focused his practice on two primary areas: innovative project development and delivery strategies, principally in the transport domain; and public-private partnerships (PPPs) for transportation and infrastructure development.

Mike co-chairs the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Task Force on Public-Private Partnerships, and over the last 20 years has been instrumental in planning and/or financing many well known public-private partnership projects.  He has been involved in many projects in which the public and private sectors partnered, including the SR 125 South Bay Expressway east of SAn Diego, E-470 Toll Expressway in Colorado; the Dulles Greenway in Virginia; the Orange County (CA) toll road program, including the San Joaquin Hills and Foothill/Eastern Corridors; the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (Israel) metro light rail projects; and the SR 91 (Riverside Freeway) HOT lanes, among others.

Mike serves on the Board of Directors of the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), and is a member of the RAND Corporation Advisory Board for Environment and Infrastructure, a member of the International Advisory Board of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), and Chairman of the Laguna Beach (CA) Transportation Commission.  Mike holds an undergraduate degree in civil engineering and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning and Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mike co-founded InfraConsult in 2006.  The firm’s partners, senior staff and consultants are involved in a variety of projects involving strategy, project development, finance, facility planning and design, program management, public-private partnerships, and operation and maintenance of infrastructure facilities in the U.S. and overseas.  While specializing in complex infrastructure programs in public transit, toll facilities, highways, bridges, railroads, aviation and ports, InfraConsult also provides advisory and consultative services to public authorities and private sector organizations seeking to enhance the quality of life through improvements to the built environment. 

Michael Woo, Dean, College of Environmental Design, Cal Poly Pomona

Michael Woo brings a unique background in public service, community involvement, and urban planning to his role as Dean of the College of Environmental Design. He was the first trained urban planner and the first Asian American elected to serve on the Los Angeles City Council. Representing a diverse constituency of 235,000 people in Hollywood and surrounding neighborhoods, Woo spearheaded the Hollywood Redevelopment Plan which laid the groundwork for Hollywood’s current revitalization; played a key role in choosing the route and station locations of the Metro Red Line subway; and made decisions on numerous development proposals and neighborhood controversies. He gave up his Council seat after eight years to become one of 24 candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles in 1993, ultimately receiving 46 percent of the citywide vote and a second-place finish in the citywide run-off election.

In 2005, Woo was appointed to the Los Angeles City Planning Commission. He chairs the national board of directors of Smart Growth America, the national coalition advocating compact development patterns and sustainable transportation choices; the governing board of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center; and the board of directors of Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), the nonprofit organization which runs the Hollywood Farmers Market, the largest certified farmers market in the City of Los Angeles, which he helped to establish 19 years ago when he was a Councilman.

Reflecting his growing interest in the relationship between climate change and environmental design, Woo’s recent special assignments include an appointment from the California Air Resources Board to the Regional Targets Advisory Committee (RTAC), and an invitation from the Urban Land Institute to co-chair a study panel on the economic impacts of Senate Bill 375. A native of Los Angeles, Woo received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and earned his Master of City Planning degree from UC Berkeley. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Before becoming Dean of ENV, Woo taught the undergraduate introduction to urban planning and development at USC for seven years and led a seminar at UCLA on urbanization in China.

Ayahlushim Hammond, Senior Vice President, Thomas Properties Group

Ayahlushim Hammond is Senior Vice President at Thomas Properties Group (TPG). In this capacity, Ms. Hammond, who joined TPG in May 2006, is responsible for leading TPG’s efforts in advising NBC Universal on the “Evolution” masterplan and backlot residential development, as well as for TPG’s proposed development of the Metro/Universal station, a 1.4 million square foot Class A office development and the redevelopment of the Wilshire Grand Hotel and Office complex. Previously, Ms. Hammond was a partner and managing member of Kensington Holdings, a boutique real estate development company located in Los Angeles, California.

Prior to her tenure at Kensington Holdings, Ms. Hammond served as the Regional Administrator overseeing the Downtown Los Angeles region for the City of Los Angeles’ Community Redevelopment Agency. This region encompassed approximately 5,600 acres and entailed a new City Center Project Area, the Bunker Hill Urban Renewal Project Area, the amended Central Business District Redevelopment Project Area, the Little Tokyo Redevelopment Project area, the Central Industrial Project Area, the Chinatown Project Area as well as the entirety of the Council District 9 Project Area. Ms. Hammond began her work at the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency in 1990. Prior to that, she served as Chief Planning Deputy for City Councilman Robert Farrell. Ms. Hammond received her Bachelor of Science from Pomona College in Claremont, California.

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