Tue, Mar

Memo to Mayor Garcetti: LA Needs to Pursue Transportation Policy as Engineers, Not Social Justice Warriors

ALPERN AT LARGE--As stated in a previous CityWatch piece, we're supposed to pursue transportation policy and infrastructure improvements as engineers, not social justice warriors. 

And while the staff at Metro, and most of the LADOT and LADWP, do address our transportation/infrastructure (as those who've worked with them for years will dutifully attest), too many of Garcetti's "gurus" or "experts" like Nat Gale will pursue "road diets" and other unproven and lousy ideas that harm mobility, endanger bicyclists and pedestrians, place a drag on the economy, and hurt our environment. 

Meanwhile, the rest of us just want the obvious, and are paying major coin in the form of taxes, fees, bond measures and the like while the obvious gets ignored: 

1) Road widenings and safe bicycle lanes and safe sidewalks are good for the economy, mobility, decreased gridlock (and less fumes/environmental hazards), and better quality of life for those wanting to live here and create businesses here.   

2) Parking gets cars off the road to access businesses, schools, malls, etc. (and Portland only just passed the 7% mark for bicycle commuting, so even that major city needs its roads, parking, etc. for its daily commerce).  Parking structures end the need for parking lanes, and open up more room for buses, bicyclists, commuters, wider sidewalks, and that sort of good things. 

3) Open space is good.  Parks (not just pocket parks but real parks) are good.  Living environments amenable to families with children are good. 

4) Helping the homeless is also good...very good, and very moral.  But after successful City and County homeless measures, and assessing developers, will that money go to making a difference, or will our homeless count go up and up and up and up?  And what DOES the proliferation of homeless do to mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists? 

5) Density isn't always greener,because while "downtowns" are excellent for commerce (Downtown LA and Union Station, the Wilshire Corridor, Warner Center, the LAX region, etc.), placing "downtowns" willy-nilly everywhere actually creates more gridlock, shreds livability, the environment, and this is especially true for families with small children. 

6) Affordable housing in the suburbs, with 1-story or 2-story elevation of commercial corridors, and small lot subdivisions, gets the job done by smart density but NOT neighborhood transformation.  As the expression goes, if we wanted to live in Manhattan, we'd move to Manhattan. 

7) The Expo Line has already reached its 2030 ridership goal of 64,000 daily riders on average, which is hardly a shock for those who fought for it.  But it has a rough cap of 90-100,000 riders/day because it shares lines with the Blue Line in Downtown LA.  So why are we planning to densify as if the Expo Line can carry 150,000 or more per day with respect to planning/densification of the Expo Line corridor. 

Mayor Garcetti, you have done well on certain issues but you're hurting the Environment and Economy of Los Angeles with irrational and belief-based directives from “above".  

Please stop harming your constituents.  We're willing to pay taxes and pay fees and assessments, but there's only so much we're willing to do if the obvious end result is that our Quality of Life is destroyed, and/or if we're being forced to move for our physical, mental, and financial survival.


(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also 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 was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. 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 Dr. Alpern.)