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Transportation LA: Wishing Well for 2012 (Part 2)

TOP 10 HOPES - As a tumultuous 2011 closes down, and as 2012 becomes more of a reality in our minds, it’s clear that 2011 was a controversial year of healthy debates and progress in transportation as we pursue a city, county, state and federal landscape that will create a first-class American economy for the 21st century.
Here are 6-10 (See Part 1 of this article here) of my Top Ten Hopes for Transportation in 2012:

Six: Ask developers and their political puppets to stop "owning" the City of Los Angeles.  

Councilmembers Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz did a great job of bringing AEG to bear for their Downtown Convention Center project, and perhaps should get them to build a parking structure/transportation center at the Exposition/Sepulveda/Pico land parcel adjacent to the future Expo Line station to ensure that remote/transit access is properly utilized.

L.A. would do well to emulate its neighbor, Long Beach, which just voted down a coastal project that would have thwarted its own zoning plan with variants galore, transformed the region with a ridiculously tall tower, messed up local traffic and threatened local wetlands. (Link) Seriously, folks—developers who do understand and respect the zoning process get their way.

My Hope:  Los Angeles City Planning needs to emulate other neighboring cities and virtually double whatever the required mitigation that developers are slithering their way out of, and should include not only traffic but also police/fire, sidewalks/bicycle amenities, environmental and especially water-use mitigations for all developments.

Seven: On a similar note, we’ve still got politicians and planners who throw out the terms "affordable housing" and "transit-oriented development" to promote overdevelopment that isn’t helpful for either endeavor.  

Huge megaprojects that were being planned adjacent to the future Bundy/Olympic and Exposition/Sepulveda Expo Line stations have fortunately been killed either by a lousy economy or by neighborhood outrage, but will their replacements really and truly and sufficiently transit-oriented?  Will they benefit their neighborhoods, or transform them into hellholes?  

When does the paradigm of building ever more and more and more residential projects we don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate finally end?  When does our policy of building more commercial space and reward telecommuting in the City of Los Angeles begin?  

My Hope is that our political leaders will have the guts to ask ourselves, “If a given project would never make it through Planning and the City Council in Santa Monica, Culver City, West Hollywood, or Pasadena, then why should it make it in Los Angeles?”

Eight: We’ve got Metro Guidelines for rail/road grade separations:  commercial, freight and light rail should be grade-separated from roads whenever appropriate, and safety is nothing that should ever be threatened by costs.  That said, the arguments about grade-separating light rail have been taken over by those "purists" who insist on 100% grade-separation or no grade-separation--every cross-street has its own pros and cons to grade separation.  

For example, the Expo Line undercrossing by USC was an excellent idea, but whether one calls it a trench or a subway, that grade separation has its legitimate problems and challenges to overcome, (link) and the same will be true for any underground grade-separations for the Crenshaw/Green Line as well.

My Hope:  let the spin and legal manipulations end, and let the rational discussion begin!

Nine: We need to build all bus/rail stations with all appropriate transit, carpool, and bicycle amenities, but don't "cheap out" on the parking or sidewalk repairs!  

My Hope is that naïve City planners and politicians stop shortchanging those taxpaying commuters who need a car or walk to commute to the transit station, and start demanding that Metro and developers cough up the dough to fund adjacent parking structures and sidewalks…and while we’re at it, let’s expedite the fixing of our City sidewalk network and create a bicycle network like virtually every other City in California!

Ten: We just had some major voter revolutions at the City, State and Federal level over the past few years, and with our hideous unemployment, economic and budgetary crises I predict more in 2012.  

My Hope is that we will have a Mayor, City Council, City Controller and City Attorney who will actually do the job that they were voted in for:  to represent, and not rule, the voters of the City of L.A., and who will each recognize that the explosive increase in grassroots interest and leadership is a first-rate, historic opportunity--not an inconvenient burden—that will attract residents in the 21st century to a world-renowned status in the economic powerhouse that should be the City of Los Angeles.

I wish all of Los Angeles a happier commute, and a Healthy and Happy New Year in 2012!

NOTE: Part 2 of this article will be posted Friday in CityWatch.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us.   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)

Tags: Transportation, Los Angles, County, California, Sacramento, LAX, Wilshire Corridor, Crenshaw Line, President Obama, Mark Ridley-Thomas

Vol 9 Issue 104
Pub: Dec 30, 2011