TRANSPORTATION POLITICS-We live in conflicted times. Whether it's presidential politics, state politics, or local politics, the ambivalence and anger seem to be at historic levels. Ditto with transportation and planning here in the City of the Angels. I've heard many impassioned, if not infuriated, individuals who are all over the place with respect to transit/transportation efforts, but one common sentiment appears universal: overdevelopment is neither economically nor environmentally smart or safe ... and if LA City transit leads to overdevelopment, then sentiment for more transit will certainly drop.
So whether it's the proposed half-cent transportation tax ("Measure R-2") scheduled for this November's ballot, or the troubled California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR) project, ambivalence and conflicted sentiments abound. I'm not the only transit/transportation advocate who recognizes BOTH the benefits and shortfalls of mass transit, and who NEVER wanted the blatant overdevelopment we're seeing in LA.
And I'm not the only transit/transportation advocate favoring passage of BOTH Measure R-2 this fall as well as the Neighborhood Intregrity Initiative next spring. Expediting rail to our airports and suburbs, as well as funding transportation operations, is in no way mutually exclusive to delivering the legal and political smackdown that overly-empowered developers and their political puppets so richly deserve.
In my last CityWatch article, I emphasized how the City of LA--which has a huge hunk of county voters--is undermining the county's efforts to pass Measure R-2 by the City's corruption, poor planning, horrific abuse of environmental and planning laws, and belittling of its City's residents' rights.
But then ... we had Bill Rosendahl show up, and now we have Mike Bonin.
Visionary goals, prudent planning, a focus on credibility, and no B.S. allowed in CD11 with respect to development and obeying the law.
Unfortunately, the rest of the City Hall too often provides milquetoast, or aloof, or even downright corrupt leadership with respect to appropriate economic, environmental and quality of life issues.
Garcetti's record is mixed with positive new initiatives and an appalling record of overdevelopment from his City Council days. And as for City Council President/Boss Wesson...well, let's just be grateful for term limits.
In my last article, I mentioned the imperfect but overall-favorable approach to the Martin Cadillac project adjacent to the only CD11 Expo Line station at Bundy/Olympic that Mike Bonin could influence--he and his team are fighting for a transit-oriented project with community benefits and affordable housing.
Ditto for the LAX Northside Plan Update on Westchester Parkway, and sandwiched between LAX and Westchester/Playa Del Rey. The City Council passed it, and it's an example of community participation and more appropriate and sustainable planning the City sorely needs.
As articulated by Argonaut newspaper journalist extraordinaire Gary Walker, the originally-approved 4.5 million square feet of commercial land use was cut in half. Westchester residents will have a virtual extension of the Downtown Westchester Business District, and will have Westchester Parkway buffered to protect local neighborhoods. Green space, open space, community/civic land use, and even a dog park is planned. And, of course, it's transit-friendly.
Mike Bonin and both the Westchester and LAX leaderships worked together on this plan, which shows that--as with the LAX/Green Line/Crenshaw Line effort--former foes can work together to come up with compromise that best serves all parties.
Unfortunately, Mike Bonin isn't mayor...yet. But he does show that honor, credibility, and compromise can get the job done during an era where citizens are so used to getting the heave-ho that they presume government will never serve him.
Maybe there's hope for Measure R-2 after all ... but, of course, that doesn't mean we shouldn't also pass the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. Not everyone is as well-represented as folks are in CD11.
(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 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.)