Letter from UN4LA: Why the Purple Line Extension TNP Won’t Work

PLATKIN ON PLANNING-Note to CityWatchLA readers: United Neighborhoods for LA (UN4LA) recently sent this letter outlining an alternative to the proposed Purple Line Extension Transit Neighborhood (Up-zoning) Plan to the three-members of the City Council whose Districts include this potential Specific Plan.

The letter also included the Director of Planning, Vince Bertoni, whose staff proposed this upzoning scheme to METRO, and who are pushing hard to have the City Council adopt their ordinance before the Wilshire Community Plan is updated. Attachments, expanding this letter, can be found at http://un4la.com/blog.html. 

-- Dick Platkin, CityWatchLA columnist and UN4LA Board Member.



Casey Maddren, President

Grace Yoo, Treasurer

Kim Lamorie, Secretary

Don Andres

Melisa Arechiga

Annie Gagen

Jack Humphreville

Richard Platkin

Cherilyn Smith


November 27, 2018 


Honorable Herb Wesson

Honorable Paul Koretz

Honorable David Ryu

Director of Planning Vince Bertoni

Los Angeles City Hall

200 N. Spring Street, 5th Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90012


Re:      Purple Line Transit Neighborhood Plan

Case Number: CPC-2018-3731-ZC-GPA-HD-CDO; ENV-2018-3732-EIR

Alternative Proposal by UN4LA 

Dear Councilmembers Wesson, Koretz and Ryu, and Director Bertoni, 

United Neighborhood for Los Angeles (UN4LA) is an organization working with community groups throughout Los Angeles to promote better planning and better governance. 

We have carefully studied the proposed Purple Line Extension Transit Neighborhood Plan (TNP) and concluded that, as now formulated, it will not work. At best, it will not meet its expressed goals of building affordable housing, increasing transit ridership, and reducing the generation of greenhouse gases.  

At worst, the current TNP proposal will upzone the Miracle Mile, San Vicente, Fairfax, and La Brea corridors, further reduce bus and subway ridership, decrease the supply of affordable housing, and expand the generation of GHGs. This is because the proposed Purple Line Extension TNP awards property owners unconditional bonuses to increase the height, size, and density of new residential buildings, without affordable housing requirements. Unless blocked by the courts, this approach might result in more apartment and commercial construction, but these buildings and their rentable units will be limited to the upper end of the rental market. This is exactly the population that owns and drives cars, while seldom riding buses or subways. 

Furthermore, the existing problems faced by the Purple Line TNP area have no connection to zoning since these neighborhoods currently have an enormous amount of unused zoning capacity. Additionally, the Miracle Mile corridor has suffered long term time decline because of inadequate infrastructure and prior approvals of four new regional centers north of Wilshire Boulevard: Cedars-Sinai Hospital, the Beverly Center, the Beverly Connection, and the Grove shopping center. 

Instead, we recommend a transit program that addresses the actual problems faced by the TNP neighborhoods. The revamped Purple Line TNP should be modeled after the recently completed Crenshaw Light Rail TNP, which entirely focused on public improvements. To best make this change, the Purple Line TNP should be folded into the forthcoming update of the Wilshire Community Plan and then fully implement two manuals posted on City Planning’s web site: Mobility Hubs and Complete Streets Guidelines. This approach also has the advantage of relying on the Wilshire Community Plan Update’s community analysis and extensive outreach efforts. 

We are including attachments that provide further data to support our recommendations. If you would like more information on our proposal, UN4LA would be happy to meet with you to discuss these issues further. 


Casey Maddren, President

United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles


(Dick Platkin is a former Los Angeles city planner who reports on local city planning controversies for CityWatchLA.  Please send any questions or corrections to rhplatkin@gmail.com.)