Wed, Apr

So, How DO Common Sense and Compromise Survive in the Planning and Transportation Wars?


GETTING THERE FROM HERE--Most of us are reasonable people--willing to give, but not willing to be taken. Taken for a ride. Taken down that primrose path.  Taken to the cleaners.  Taken for granted. 

So it's not hard to figure out the agony that more than a few of us have over the need to fund more transportation, homelessness reduction, parks, schools, and other civic needs because we're ALREADY paying a lot for that, and we're pretty concerned about where more money would go if spent by the SAME folks who got us into this mess to begin with. 

My personal focus of transportation has been sullied by a variety of agendas, not the least of which is the Planning Politburo of the City of Los Angeles, that has been aided and abetted by an out-of-touch and developer-owned Sacramento and legal elite all too happy to create laws, and/or misinterpret laws, which destroy the basic tenets of compromise and common sense. 

Hence we've got the choice of "just voting no" on the transportation, homeless, parks, and school bonds/taxes initiatives this November and "making a statement" but letting unresolved issues remain ... well ... unresolved ...or 

... voting in favor of some or all initiatives and getting clobbered in the same way we'd be clobbered if we gave our substance-abusing parents some money to buy groceries and presume they'd not spend it on something horrible.  Or allow something horrible to happen. 

For years we've been told that we should vote for more transportation, and--in all honesty--it's easy to support this November's transportation initiative for the County of LA as one of the more transparent gestures that Metro has made for a countywide transportation system.  At this time, I intend to vote for it, and I recommend that anyone reading this does the same. 

But a "no" vote might just be the only way we can prevent the formation of mega-developments, of unsustainable high-rises, and of future transportation/mobility failures because Planning interprets a new transportation project as a way to support politicians and developers high on "taxpayer crack" when we just want some more mobility, a little bit of densification, and a whole lot of common sense. 

Does that new development have to be seven stories tall, and out of alignment with the 1-2 story region? 

Does that new development have to be "affordable" with rents/monthly fees being $2000/month or more? 

Does that new development have to have such a ridiculously-low number of parking spaces that spillover parking impacting the law-abiding neighbors is inevitable? 

Does the reality that even Portland has only 7% bicycle commuting rates get allowed into any public discussion, suggesting that there's a limit to what bicycling (and other non-automobile forms of transportation) can do for traffic and mobility improvements? 

Does the public and the Neighborhood Councils ever get allowed to work with, and compromise with, high-rise-obsessed developers building either in the Westside or elsewhere and ask for appropriate balance of developing density versus traffic/parking/infrastructure mitigations. 

I will end this article the way I ended my last one

Development and Transportation is a form of progress, but ... 

Neighborhood Councils are also a form of progress, and one where the "little guy/gal" has a place to go.    

We NEED a Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. 

And we also NEED a good lawyer or two to help us defend ourselves against governmental overreach, whether it’s from Downtown LA, the County, or even Sacramento ... as part of a successful new portion of LA City government.


(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.)


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