This is bureaucratic but important. What is a density bonus? In as few words as possible: it allows developers to build more units if they agree to make some of them ‘affordable’ to those with lower incomes. Problem is, data suggests that developers in L.A. could be building twice the number of affordable units under the law that they could.
And that’s a tough nut to swallow for many, given that Los Angeles rentals and real estate prices have been steadily rising for the past several years. It’s also an issue for the transit minded as many new developments in Los Angeles are near existing rail lines, future rail lines or high frequency bus lines (run by Metro and muni operators).
This isn’t necessarily easy reading. But it’s important. Part five floats an interesting idea that would have developers contribute to a fund to buy and maintain existing affordable units instead of paying for new ones.
What about requiring developers to include affordable units. That has been in legal question, but hot off the presses….
Los Angeles confronts a spike in homelessness amid prosperity (New York Times)
The opening photograph by Monica Almeida nails it with a hipster pushing his bike and homeless man pushing his overfilled grocery cart on a downtown L.A. street corner. The story is good, too — catching up with the recently reported news that our region’s homeless population is estimated to have increased 12 percent in the past two years.
I don’t think that’s news to anyone who travels around our region. It’s pretty obvious there are more homeless in our parks, river channels and on sidewalks — and, yes, even on transit at times. I think the most interesting part of the story is the disagreement over the cause.
Some people say the increase is due to the rise in the cost of housing. Others point to the good weather here — although there’s no explicit mention of the drought and relatively dry rainy seasons here versus the brutal cold and snow back east. Still others say that the problem is too many mentally ill people and/or drug addicts out there, with too little help and too little legal ability by police to force them from sidewalks.
Tough, tough issue. Obviously not a transit story per se, but one that impacts many people in the region, housed and not housed. As for the argument that gentrification is causing the recent surge in homeless, I’m a little skeptical and would like to see more evidence. Your thoughts?
Can light rail save American sprawl? (The Week)
The answer in my view: of course not — at least not on its own. Although light rail certainly can supply higher frequency and more high capacity service in some urban corridors. That said, interesting story looking ahead a few decades when America’s population is closer to 400 million and many more people presumably have to get to work.
Key graph halfway through:
Nationwide data isn’t always so rosy when it comes to public transit improvements. A 2014 analysis from New Geography argued that so-called “legacy cities” — that is, cities with already existing strong public transit systems, such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, DC — accounted for 77 percent of public transit commuting in urban areas nationwide. Newer, less transit-friendly cities accounted for only 12 percent.
Bottom line: It’s hard to re-engineer places that in recent decades have largely been built around the automobile. The good news is that Western urban areas, including the L.A. region, are making some progress. Plus there’s this: the alternative — doing nothing and accepting the status quo — doesn’t seem super smart.
Happy 75th Anniversary, Cahuenga Pass Freeway (Metro Transportation Library & Archives)
The portion over the Cahuenga Pass opened 75 years ago today. The idea was to relieve a tough bottleneck in traffic over the pass between Hollywood and the emerging San Fernando Valley. The streetcar tracks were out of service by the mid-1950s and it wasn’t until 2000 that the Red Line subway under the pass opened to North Hollywood.
My girl cooks good southern food (Zocalo Public Square)
•Things to listen to on transit: the latest Judge John Hodgman is a very good one and involves the issue of holiday creep (holidays being marketed and celebrated earlier and earlier each year). A wife sues her husband, a Santa Claus for hire, asking the Judge to order him to keep his Santa activities and beard restricted to November and December. As hilarious as this episode is, I’m not sure it’s quite unrelentingly funny as the episode featuring yours truly and my buddy Scott.
•Marc Maron has a good interview with Henry Winkler on his podcast. Some of it is about the Fonz, a lot of it isn’t. Warning: it’s Marc Maron, so expect a lot of very R-rated language.
Categories: Transportation Headlines