In transportation and planning circles, there is a long-held belief that it makes sense to put new developments near transit. It’s a strategy seen as a way to increase ridership, help reduce sprawl and create more vibrant, walkable and transit-friendly communities.
The other way of looking at it: if a city/region is going to grow, it’s better to put that growth in a place that’s not completely dependent on driving.
With those goals in mind, Metro this month is beginning the process of creating development guidelines for four parcels the agency owns totaling 15.6 acres around the North Hollywood Red Line Station, which is the busiest on the Red Line outside of downtown Los Angeles. Metro originally acquired the properties for construction of the Red Line and adjacent Orange Line busway. A previous attempt to develop some of the land was scuttled due to the Great Recession.
Before we go further, I wanted to address the parking issue, which is very important to many of our riders and readers. The current NoHo lot has 957 spaces and another 194 spaces are in the process of being added on the north side of Chandler Avenue east of the current lot. Parking at NoHo Station is heavily used with most sites taken each morning and many NoHo riders say the parking makes it possible for them to take transit. If the current lots are developed, Metro plans to ask for 2,000 replacement spaces for transit riders in parking lots and/or garages to be constructed in addition to parking needed for residents and retail. That would almost double the current parking available at the station for Red Line and Orange Line riders.
As part of the development guideline process, Metro is hosting two events — a community meeting and an open house — in North Hollywood. The time, date and location of those meetings are at the bottom of this post.
With the previous plans having fallen through, the development process is now being restarted. The goal is to figure out the general size and scale of what should be built so that Metro can eventually hire a developer to construct the project. Metro has vetted developers who may eventually vie to secure a contract with Metro.
An earlier zoning plan by the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency — and still on the books with the city of L.A. — does allow this area in NoHo to grow denser with buildings with access to the subway portal to be up to 18 stories tall and other buildings be eight to 12 stories. Early estimates are that the sites could contain 750 to 1,500 residential units along with commercial and/or office space.
That doesn’t mean that will happen. The idea behind the guidelines is to determine what the community wants and what may be compatible with the surrounding area. In recent years — and corresponding with the opening of the Red Line to NoHo in 2000 — parts of NoHo have certainly been revitalized, in particular along Lankershim Boulevard south of the Red Line station.
At this time, the four parcels are the largest amount of property near one station for a Metro joint development — other than what could potentially be built at Los Angeles Union Station. This will also be the first development that is part of Metro’s new goal in which 35 percent of the residential units across its entire portfolio of joint developments should qualify as affordable housing.
The sites are also unique because they are located at the junction of two Metro transit lines and the Orange Line bike path. The Red Line remains Metro’s busiest rail line with about 140,000 average boardings on weekdays and the Orange Line attracts about 25,000 average boardings on weekdays, according to Metro’s latest ridership estimates.
A bike hub is also planned for the old North Hollywood depot that Metro has refurbished; my colleague Dave Sotero will soon be posting more about future bike hubs. In addition to the Orange Line bike path, there is another bike path along Chandler Avenue east of Vineland. That path runs all the way to Mariposa Street in Burbank.
Metro has already partnered developing 2,077 residential units near transit in Los Angeles County. Most of the joint developments were built on parcels left over from construction of transit projects.
The Community Workshop is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
at the North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library at 5211 Tujunga Avenue in NoHo. UPDATE!: The meeting has changed location and will be held instead at the North Hollywood Recreation Center Gymnasium: 11430 Chandler Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. The gym is a very short walk from the library.
A Development Guidelines Open House is scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the El Portal Theatre at 5269 Lankershim Boulevard in NoHo.