The Architecture of Transportation - Join the Conversation with David Grannis

Last Updated: June 9, 2011

The Architecture of Transportation - Join the Conversation with David Grannis

"The Architecture of Transportation" Design Symposium
Friday, June 24 (8:30 AM - 5:00 PM)
Los Angeles Convention Center, West Hall

Please CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

On June 24th, as part of the annual AIA|LA Design Conference at Dwell on Design, we are coordinating a series of candid discussions about how to design transportation systems that will support and strengthen healthier, more functional and more livable neighborhoods.

In an effort to inspire advance dialogue, Will Wright reached out to several of the participating speakers to hear their thoughts.

Here is an in-depth response from David Grannis, CEO of Planning Company Associates.

David Grannis
Chief Executive Officer
Planning Company Associates

David Grannis founded Planning Company Associates, Inc. to bring a strategic private- public partnership approach to solving critical urban infrastructure and land-use problems. Building on his over twenty years of both public and private sector experience, Grannis specializes in developing and implementing public-private partnership resulting in approval, action and implementation of creative and effective solutions.

Examples of his work over the history of Planning Company Associates includes:

  • Served as Project Manager for the Alameda Corridor, working with a myriad of government officials in securing funding for this nationally significant project, including a $400 million federal loan that was the precursor to TIFIA.

  • Is the creator and lead consultant of Vision Los Angeles, a partnership between the Los Angeles business and environmental communities to develop a sustainable transportation plan for Los Angeles.

  • Developed a comprehensive regional transportation finance and implementation program for the Walt Disney Company's Disneyland expansion project in Anaheim, California.

  • Developed strategy for the funding of the Hearst Ranch Conservation Program, resulting in the conservation of the 82,000-acre Hearst Ranch in perpetuity.

David and his wife, Sherry Swanson, reside in Pasadena, California, with their two sons, Riley Sam Grannis & Luc Jamison Grannis.

From a regulatory framework, what needs to change so that we can facilitate a transportation system that supports healthier, more functional and more livable neighborhoods?

The entire system of funding and regulation of how those funds can be utilized needs to change. When we began the Interstate Highway System -- like it or hate it -- we had a national vision and imperative to build something. We have ridden to prosperity on this system that our parents and grandparents paid for, but we now have a new national imperative: energy independence. The Soviets are no longer as potent a threat to our economy and quality of life as the control of the finite amount of non-renewable energy controlled by regions and governments other than our own. If we cannot come together at the national and state level to achieve this "greater good" -- something that, by definition, cannot be espoused in the same breath as "my fair share" -- then let's do it locally and privately. It truly isn't that we don't have the resources...we simply don't have the same resources upon which we have come to rely. This is quite soluble and empowering, if you really think about it.

How can we maximize our investment in the next round of transportation improvements?

By waking up and treating our money and our systems AS AN INVESTMENT. We cannot allow ourselves to be caught up in the notion of spending; rather, we must ensure that our own resources -- our "skin in the game', if you will -- is a powerful attractor of investment with a return that is economic, social and environmental. We have the metrics and ability to measure this...let's just do it.

From a global perspective, how far behind/ how far ahead is California?

I wonder whether we are massively behind the curve -- witness our stalemated political system and budget deficits -- or whether we are just the first to experience significant social, political and economic change, as California is often first, the leader. We forget that we once had the most advanced privately financed and operated transit system of any region in the country in our red car/streetcar system. It was built and operated with private capital and was a real estate investment without which houses would have not sold. We move to automobiles when they became affordable and promoted our personal freedom. Times change, people learn...and I wonder if California -- through it's mega-regions and cities -- have the opportunity to be the next wave of smart growth that is coupled with personal freedom...kind of our DNA?

What do you most enjoy right now, when it comes to our current transportation system? What's working well? What's the 'baby' you don't want to throw out with the murky bathwater?

I love that our region supported a tax measure in the midst of a huge economic depression. The notion of advancing the timetable to build key civic investments is so common-sense, it appears to be brilliant. But it appeals because it is common sense, not due to its brilliance. We MUST maintain our focus, our commitment and keep trust with the vast majority of people in our region who voted support for DOING SOMETHING POSITIVE in times of dire uncertainty.

What is your vision for the year 2050 ? Share a glimpse of a day-in-yuour-life as it relates to your personal mobility.

After I take off my portable iron lung...a hard one for me personally as if I am fortunate enough to see 2050 I will be 92. But if I think of my sons (one is 6, the other not yet 2), their lives will be replete with choices that sustain them economically, intellectually, spiritually, civically, and socially. In short, their Los Angeles is the most accessible region in the world.

Describe one of your more memorable mobility experiences, i.e., a specific bike-ride, walk, train ride, urban hike, road-trip, plain-trip or sea-faring adventure that still resonates even after all these years. What made it special? How can we create equitable opportunities for others to enjoy these types of experiences?

One of my recent memorable "mobility?" experiences was linked to my attendance at the Los Angeles Kings 2010 playoffs at Staples. My wife and I are 10-year season ticket holders and love the Kings (Luuuuuc!). We decided a few years back to save money on parking passes and take the Gold/Red/Blue lines to the games. I will never forget walking out of my office on Lake Avenue in Pasadena and walking into Staples for playoff hockey in 35 minutes, a feat not able to be achieved by any other mode. And the key is that I had a viable choice. Now for the bad news: upon leaving the game -- with several thousand of my fellow, disappointed Kings fans -- I was astounded to wait on the Blue Line platform adjacent to Staples for 20 minutes only to finally bail out in frustration and walk the six or seven blocks in another 10 to 15 minutes to the Red Line station at Figueroa & 7th, again to be severely frustrated by another 20-25 minute wait. But wait, there's more: once at Union Station, I waited another 15 minutes for a Gold Line train. And it wasn't just me. There were many, many fans who were taking transit as a convenience...many people who I would venture to guess won't return to the rails for many years, if ever. The ease and joy of my trip to the game (35 minutes) was all but erased by my 1 hour and 15 minute trip back to the Fillmore Station. No way to run a railroad, I would suggest.

Join the Discussion, Share Your Perspective

You're encouraged to share your own perspective with AIA|LA. Answer the following six questions: (or feel free to add your own)

  1. From a regulatory framework, what needs to change so that we can facilitate a transportation system that supports healthier, more functional and more livable neighborhoods?

  2. How can we maximize our investment in the next round of transportation improvements?

  3. From a global perspective, how far behind/ how far ahead is California?

  4. What do you most enjoy right now, when it comes to our current transportation system? What's working well? What's the 'baby' you don't want to throw out with the murky bathwater?

  5. What is your vision for the year 2050? Share a glimpse of a day-in-your life as it relates to your personal mobility.

  6. Describe one of your more memorable mobility experiences, i.e., a specific bike-ride, walk, train ride, urban hike, road-trip, plain-trip or sea-faring adventure that still resonates even after all these years. What made it special? How can we create equitable opportunities for others to enjoy these types of experiences?

The author of the most compelling response will receive a complimentary pass to the "Architecture of Transportation" Design Symposium.

Share your perspective by writing Will Wright at will@aialosangeles.org with "The Architecture of Transportation" in the subject line.

"The Architecture of Transportation" Design Symposium
Friday, June 24 (8:30 AM - 5:00 PM)
Los Angeles Convention Center, West Hall

Please CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

Last updated: 11-Dec-2012 08:36 AM
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