Thu, Sep

The Detached and Corrupted LA City Planning Continues to Undermine Transportation Initiatives


GETTING THERE FROM HERE-After having witnessed a rather well-done (albeit low turnout) Metro presentation for an Airport Metro Connector (LINK: ) that is the result of a first-rate-and-no-idea-not-explored, years-long exhaustive review on how to connect MetroRail and mass transit to LAX, I'm reminded at the contrasting scenario of how LA City Planning is (again!) destroying our efforts to enhance our Economy, Environmental Sustainability and Quality of Life. 

And after spending so much time, energy and personal resources to enhance, I am not going to mince words: Mayor Garcetti, I like you personally and believe you want to do well by our City, and you deserve mega-kudos for your regional efforts to promote transportation/mobility improvements, but if you don't FIRE some of the wild-eyed, detached, and crazy "thought leaders" at City Planning, all of your efforts will be for naught: 

--The Mayor and the City of Los Angeles did the right thing, and the US Olympic Committee did the wrong thing, when the sentiment over the Boston Marathon tragedy led to a decision to favor Boston over LA for the 2024 Olympics.  Only LA has the wherewithal and infrastructure to be ready for that event, and this was a golden opportunity blown. 

--Furthermore, the Mayor and the City of Los Angeles (and let's not forget CD11/Westside Councilmember Mike Bonin) have leaned hard on both LA World Airports and Metro to work together to create the most cost-effective and viable Metro/Airport Connector that is possible, given the geography and operations needed to create both a countywide MetroRail/bus system and a LAX that works well together. 

--However, the crazies and corrupting influences who continuously and repeatedly suck up the oxygen from the Planning room in their intensity to replace cars with bicycles, and who punish those who want mobility but not overdevelopment (which decreases mobility), and who are dominated by family/children-unfriendly/clueless advocates, are turning off those who did (and still do) want to create a viable and livable 21st-Century Los Angeles. 

One thing I've learned, and I pretty much everyone else involved with Neighborhood Councils have learned, is that families with children--small, and school-aged children--don't have the time, money or energy to go to daytime or evening events that are dominated by those who will either unintentionally and/or callously destroy what Angelenos need for economic, environmental and quality of life improvements in our City. 

This issue has tie-ins with the reality of the City of LA having no ability (or desire) to force or even work with the LAUSD to create more cost-effective and cooperative park, library, open-space and related needs with publicly-funded schools, but that's another topic altogether--it hurts mobility and traffic and children's quality of life in innumerable ways, but that's not the main focus of this article. 

The main focus is that the same transit advocates, and community advocates, and environmental advocates, and neighborhood leaders, who fought for the Expo Line, for a Metro/LAX connection and a workable bus/bike/pedestrian/car cooperative system, are watching the Planning leaders hellbent on converting the Expo Line-adjacent portion of Pico Blvd. from a 1-story commercial thoroughfare to a 5-story corridor and wondering: WHICH UNIVERSE ARE YOU LIVING IN?! 

The Expo Line is on its way to being completed in the Westside, and the lack of DASH/local bus access for local residents, and the lack of parking for long-distance commuters from the Valley and the South Bay, is appalling. No money for sufficient parking, no money for a Westside Regional Transit center adjacent to the 405 freeway and Expo Line, and no money for DASH buses isn't going to sit well with the City taxpayers. 

Neither, of course, will overdeveloping Pico Blvd. (or any other City rail-adjacent corridor) sit well with taxpayers and residents who not that long ago watched with horror as former Mayor Villaraigosa chose to treat the Westside the way he treated his family and throw them to the wolves of the Casden Developers in an attempt to create as transit-UNFRIENDLY a project as possible next to the key Expo/Sepulveda station. 

(Mayor Garcetti...may I call you Eric?  Eric, you really want Westsiders to hate you as much as they hate Antonio Villaraigosa?  Really?) 

And meaning no hurt feelings to some fighting for a proper bicycle network throughout the City (as I have), but while bicycling is both good for mobility and recreation, it is truly "jumping the shark" altogether by suggesting that we can create a more economically-vibrant and mobile City by slapping the bejeezus out of commuters who recognize that cars, buses, rail and telecommuting will be far more successful when it comes to numbers. 

When the transportation and environmental fighters (I won't mention names, but it would probably surprise the Mayor as to their identities) are now stunned and betrayed by City Planners who are more open to the input of the agenda-driven and financially/politically-connected advocates and developers then they are the citizenry who pay most of the taxes, it doesn't bode well for more transportation planning... 

...or more transportation funding. 

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There IS an example of good Planning that I've witnessed--CD11/Westside Councilmember Mike Bonin is teaming up with Westside community transportation/planning leaders to create a truly transit-oriented development proposed next to the future Bundy/Olympic Expo Line station. 

Everyone on the team wants parking to relieve the impacts on the neighborhood, but no one wants non-transit-oriented development that will explode the number of car trips to an already-gridlocked region.  Everyone wants to attract pedestrian and bus and rail access to this project, but no one wants a project that is so big that it's an environmental nightmare. 

In other words, open-mindedness but COMMON SENSE. 

So let's spend $2.5 billion to create a Metro/LAX connection.  Let's encourage developers to make Downtown L.A. both transit-friendly and the RIGHT place to densify (ditto for the Wilshire and Century Blvd. corridors for jobs and development).   

But it needs to be remembered that the Expo Line, because it has a CAP on the number of riders because it shares tracks with the Blue Line downtown, therefore has a limited number of trains (and riders!) it can have per day.   

So redeveloping the daylights out of Pico Blvd., and treating the Expo Line like the Wilshire Subway (which can carry hundreds of thousands of new riders), just to please Planning "true believers" and money-waving developers will just poison the well of once-good intentions on the part of Westside (and all) voters who wanted to create new ways to get around the congested City of Los Angeles. 

In short, and in conclusion...LAX/Metro efforts GOOD, and Expo Line Planning efforts BAD.  

Overdevelopment and childish/detached/agenda-crazed City Planners will destroy any freeway, road or rail expansion benefits to those of us who just want to get from point A to point B with less stress. 

Those Planning leaders who continue to treat the citizenry with disdain (and are perhaps tainted by developer and other money-making conflicts of interest) have richly earned their pink slips. 

There are enough good examples of quality neighborhood/transit/environmental Planning that we don't have to put up with the same bad processes that helped wear out the welcome of past City elected leaders...because it would be nice to have a City government we could trust (and fund) with greater certainty that this City government was truly looking out for the interests of its constituents.


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]   He also does regular commentary on the MarkIsler Radio Show on AM 870,and 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.) Photo credit: LA.StreetsBlog






Vol 13 Issue 17

Pub: Feb 27, 2015