Metro begins process to develop 15 acres in NoHo

Metro Owned parcels

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.



41 replies

  1. Metro, you need to be at the forefront of encouraging people to STOP using their cars. So why are you planning on a major expansion of the number of parking space at NOHO station? As many as 4,000, up from the current 1,150? How does that do anything but neutralize any benefit folks might have in driving to take transit! They should be thinking of walking or using bicycles, but here we’re adding thousands of new parking space as if we’re not entering a post-automobile world in L.A. What a disappointment.

  2. Cars parked is way better than cars on the freeway reducing pollution and congestion.

    The lesser of two weevils 🙂

    • car free is better than cars parked, the best of both worlds. I’ve been without a car in LA for months and while it does take a bit longer to get places, I don’t worry about gas, insurance, parking, traffic, driving drunk, car maintenance or polluting. If more angelenos would embrace public transit, we’d be in a far better city with great potential for growth and improvement.

    • Sure. But there are costs and benefits to dedicating valuable land and funds to providing parking. At roughly $24,000 per spot to build parking plus the opportunity cost of what could be done with the space instead, it this the best way to reduce pollution or congestion?

    • “cars on the freeway reducing pollution”

      Unfortunately, it seems this theory has been debunked recently.

      According to an UCLA professor who is an expert in transit studies, gave expert testimony to the Metro Board earlier this year and mentioned that “air quality benefits from park and ride are disappointingly small.”

      You can listen to the Metro Board meeting where they discussed the SFV parking issue, starting at the 1:56:30 mark:

      Whatever pollution benefits park and ride has, it’s negligible. A thousand cars is not going to make any difference, and neither will two thousand. And it’s unrealistic to create this one huge ginormous parking structure to fit tens and thousands of vehicles which takes up so much land space just to park at the Metro station, either.

      At this point, you just have to live with it. The end of free parking is near, just like it was bound to happen that the honor system had to go away sooner or later.

  3. I wonder how many people who threaten that they’ll leave Metro and will never ride again if Metro got rid of the free parking will live up to their resolve?

    Here’s a reality check: the 101 is still crowded today as ever before even with the small minority of the overall Metro riders getting free parking at NoHo and taking the Red Line today. They helping to ease the congestion on the 101 is insignificant.

    Now they can threaten Metro that they’ll go back to the car if their demands aren’t met, but the other realistic view is that if they do so, they’ll now be frustrated sitting in traffic on the 101 as with all the rest of the cars out there.

    So then the choice becomes: are you willing to sit in bad traffic on the 101 and all of that stress is worthwhile every single day for the rest of your life just because you want to skimp on paying a few extra dollars in parking at the North Hollywood Station?

    See, Metro doesn’t have to give into these people’s demands. In fact, they have the upper advantage to leverage themselves because they have the upper hand in being the sole transit provider in LA that allows people in the SFV to reach DTLA faster than the 101 with less stress and less hassle. Now that’s a service that is worth a premium compared to the traffic jams on the 101, so if they want to use Metro’s service that gives the fastest option between SFV and DTLA, they need to pay a higher price for it, whether though higher parking fees or higher fares.

    • Well, it’s easy to find out. Start charging for parking. Set the price at the one that just barely fills the parking lot. Then you’re maximizing the benefits to the transit system while still getting the maximum number of people who will park and ride anyway.

      • Well said and wholeheartedly agreed that the time for Metro to keep thinking “how can we get more riders to use Metro” has passed. This isn’t the 1970s or 1980s anymore where the only way to get from SFV to DTLA was through the 101. Metro Red Line is the competitor to the 101 and it offers something that the 101 will never provide: faster, stress-free access to DTLA than being stuck in traffic. Metro can charge whatever they want for parking, that’s what the SFV residents will have to pay for the premium of using a subway system that’s more stress free and faster than the 101.

        Besides, it’s not my problem if the SFV residents today finally realized the importance of the Red Line and not my problem if the residents back then were too blind to see the benefits of more SFV extensions to the Red Line to reach places beyond the North Hollywood terminus.They’re the ones that passed the proposition back in 1998 that they didn’t want a subway going through their valley so too bad they’ll deal with the what they have. If they don’t like it, they can start writing to their city councilmembers and LA Board of Supervisors to repeal the proposition so that more extensions to the Red Line can be made to the rest of the SFV. They passed it, they’re the ones that’ll have to repeal it, simple as that.

  4. I’m in favor of apartments, lofts and retail space. High density living with some green space.

  5. I think the problem lies in the fact that many car drivers are simply not aware how much space is needed to build a parking lot to fit so many cars. There’s simply not enough space left in LA anymore to build such a parking lot, let alone right beside a train station.

    Cars take up so much space. If all the 957 cars parked at North Hollywood Station took a bus to get there or switched to bicycles or motorcycles to get there, the amount of space needed would to fit the same 957 vehicles would be less than 1/4th of the size of parking space needed today, nor would Metro need to double the size of the parking lot to 2000 which is ridiculous in itself.

    Metro needs to make their own “how much space it takes for a car, bus, or bicycle/motorcycle” ad similar to Muenster, Germany Bucharest, Hungary and Des Moines, IA did previously.

    Instead of “Go Metro” ads, these ads are more straight forward and gets the message across to be an eye-opener for LA commuters. Start posting up ads showing LA commuters how much cars take up space compared to a bus and a bicycle/motorcycle. Being LA, the motorcycles should be included in the bicycle group so it reaches a wider audience than the urban hipster crowd.

  6. I’d say I have to go with the no parking space camp on this. If we continue to give subsidies to car drivers, we’ll never be able to get rid of ourselves of our car addicted culture. Instead of thinking of ways to how to bring car drivers to use transit, we should be thinking of ways of how people can live closer to these Metro stations so we don’t need to be building parking spaces.

    We must also think toward the future whether we’re really going to be needing parking lots. The way things are going with people taking rideshare services and technologies like driverless cars on the horizon, we wouldn’t be needing parking lots. People will be just dropped off the station and not have a need for parking spots. And if we build a parking lot, it’ll be a huge waste of money where we end up saying “why the heck did we build this parking lot when no one using them anymore?”

  7. I wonder what’s cheaper– developing the parking spaces or just paying everyone’s Uber.

    It’s not an idle question– if a parking space plus allowance for access takes up ~200 sqft, that could be developed into apartment space that would rent for at least $300/mo. If 2000 people park that eats $6 million in opportunity rent a month; if Metro paid their uber tab and they were coming in from under 2 miles that’d be under $10/day/rider, or under $1.2mil a month both ways.

    OTOH Metro paying uber creates a cash flow issue while bulldog parking does not.

  8. I grew up a few blocks from the north Hollywood station. It is amazing how the neighborhood has developed and improved over the last 15 years. I cite the red line as the catalyst that accelerated this change. Adding the ‘1500’ new residential units would create a whole new sub neighborhood and keep the redevelopment moving forward.

  9. People are being very unrealistic here saying that they want Metro to build more parking spaces.

    If LA were to build a parking lot for every station to accommodate everyone, imagine the number of wasted land space that just goes to cars that sit there and do nothing for close to 8-9 hrs everyday. Can you imagine how big of a parking lot LA needs to build just to satisfy all the SFV residents? They’d need to somehow acquire a massive land space larger than a football stadium and build it with many levels just to do this.

    Too many people can’t see the forest for the trees that land space is scarce in LA today and every inch of land needs to be wisely used. As people live longer, people continue to have children, transplants and more immigrants from all over the world come to LA, the population will only continue to grow and adding more parking or widening our freeways is not going to be the solution to this problem.

    People need to start accepting the fact that LA has a land space problem and that wastefully using them with more parking lots is one of the most dumbest long-term investments they can make that’ll stunt the growth and the economy of this city. Parking lots don’t create more jobs, contribute to the overall economy, and don’t living spaces for more residents. Commercial and residential properties do.

    If a parking lot has to remain, the least that would be plausible is to drastically reduce the number of parking spaces and charge a premium for it. If people really want that car space, they’ll pay whatever the price it is, just like smokers who’d pay any price for a pack of cancer sticks.

  10. They should probably add more parking… Where are all the parkers gonna park if there’s less than 3000 spots?

    I’d say most angelenos agree that the car is the worst form of transportation especially in a city. If we continue to build for the car, we’ll never reduce our dependency for the car.

    2,000 parking spaces would be a colossal waste of space and a completely backwards approach to solving the regions most ubiquitous and contentions problems.

  11. Let’s do some math:

    The Red Line sees 140,000 riders and the Orange Line sees 25,000 riders per day. That gives a total of 165,000 riders between the Red Line and the Orange Line on a given weekday.

    But there’s only 957 parking spaces at NoHo, most of them being single person car drivers and it fills up by 7:30 AM. And those cars just sit there wasting valuable space until the commute home sometime in the afternoon or the evening, right? There might be some carpoolers, so let’s just say this parking lot contributes 1,000 riders to the Red Line and Orange Line system.

    1,000 car parkers at NoHo Station divided by 165,000 Red Line + Orange Line riders = 0.6 percent of riders

    Wow, very insignificant numbers.

    The car drivers parking at the NoHo station using the Red Line and Orange Lines won’t be missed. The loss of 1000 riders will be easily recovered by Metro if they demolish the parking and instead, redevelop this land with residential and commercial structures that will add more jobs and more residents in this area, with the added benefits of Metro becoming the landlord of this property to collect rent or sell units as Metro sees fits.

    Chandler/Lankershim could become LA’s hottest property areas, Metro should not waste it as a parking lot.

    • It’s not 140,000 or 25,000 individual riders. Those are boardings and include people making roundtrips.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • YES YES YES. I wrote this in early comments, but they’re still “awaiting moderation”

      Thank you for clearly identifying how horribly misused the proposed parking spots would be. I hope someone at Metro is reading this

    • You realize that by providing free parking all taxpayers are subsidizing car transit… also as “taxpaying” californian you should understand that we often subsidize a number of things we don’t support or benefit from such as the expansion of freeways. Just because a proposed development wouldn’t directly benefit you doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t directly benefit a much larger collection of angelenos who would’ve been able to live at this proposed complex if there was room for apartments instead of parking lots. Lastly, it’s not metros job to make it convenient for you, it’s metros job to best serve the largest number of residents. In clustering retail, commercial and residential around transit nodes, it has a much greater potential to serve more people instead of housing cars for hours and hours that provide no benefit to vitality, pedestrian activity and commerce (things often associated with cities and the metros built to service them)

      I’m sorry you can’t understand the simplicity in my factual statement, let me explain, higher density around transit increases ridership. To reduce density (by adding parking) you’re ultimately reducing from ridership and valuable space that could otherwise serve a better purpose (like shops, offices or residence) To supplement usable space by adding lowest and worst land use (parking lots) is a detriment to the success of the complex, metro ridership and a step in the wrong direction in LA’s efforts to wane off car dependency. peruse the “facts” and notice the ridership trends in areas with and without parking accommodations.

  12. “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.”

    I highly support this idea. Agreed, there are far better uses for those Metro owned land spaces than being wasted as a parking lot. You can solve the first mile issue by building a high rise condo with mixed use commercial spaces here instead, like the ones in Koreatown. Metro is letting a great revenue source slip away by just giving them away as free parking lots.

    People need to stop being so selfish that they’re somehow entitled to free parking. If you don’t want to use Metro anymore now that free parking is gone, go ahead. It’s a small price to pay to change LA to a more car-free transit oriented lifestyle. You can’t change LA without making some sacrifices and getting rid of parking lots is one of them that I can live with.

    • Taxpayers of the entire Los Angeles County should not have to subsidize the people who can easily afford to live within the so called half mile of the station. Why should I or anyone support a Metro system that will not make it any easier for them to take transit.

      You state a fact that certain riders are greater than hypothetical riders; where is your Data and facts, also since when did the word hypothetical become greater than some statistic. Mark Twain has a quote about statistics.

      You also make a mistake that parking prevents ridership of thousands of potential residents because you have no proof.

      • “Why should I or anyone support a Metro system that will not make it any easier for them to take transit.”

        The same reason why every LA County resident pays a three different half cent sales taxes from Measure A, C, and R regardless whether they take Metro or not. You can complain all you want, but whether you support Metro or not in whatever decision Metro decides to do with this property, you’re contributing 1.5% of your sales taxes from everything that you buy within LA County into Metro projects and will remain that way until LA County voters decide to repeal them. Good luck and happy trails to you as you’re going to have one heck of a time trying to convince the rest of the 10 million residents in LA County to agree with you.

        “Taxpayers of the entire Los Angeles County should not have to subsidize the people who can easily afford to live within the so called half mile of the station. ”

        It’s not my problem that LA County, mostly from SFV residents, passed a proposition back in 1998 that no more funds from Measures A and C will be used to construct new subway lines. SFV residents pretty much did it to themselves that the only rail subway station they have is the North Hollywood station when they could’ve had more. But they didn’t want a subway transversing across the SFV so they have to make do with what they wanted. They voted for it, that’s what they get. Can’t complain if they voted for it. And that proposition killed any hopes of additional subway extensions in the SFV. You want it to become more easier to take transit within SFV, you’re free to gather around votes to try and repeal this proposition that’s in place today that bans the construction of new subway extensions in the SFV.

  13. The current parking at the station is severely inadequate. The elitist and naive suggest that parking is bad for transit when the opposite is completely true; the Metro system is neither very convenient nor is it in a position in most communities within Los Angeles County, or even the City of LA, to adequately accommodate people. Without a significant expansion for Metro, most people will, must, rely on their cars. It’s unfortunate that they naysayers fail to see that. Many people I speak to say that they would use transit if parking was available and that is a fact.

    • Fact. Metro would serve a greater number of people living within a half mile of the stop than the sum of hypothetical riders outside the 3 mile radius (who would statistically be inclined to drive)

      I’m sorry that you’re too far away that you’d be “required” to drive instead of take the bus, but to prevent ridership of thousands of potential residents to save room for your parking space is tremendous waste of space. Unfortunately, you’re looking at transit backwards.

  14. This move is long overdue. The current parking lot is a total failure as a place. The new buildings should maintain pedestrian orientation (zero or minimal front setbacks with entrances facing the sidewalk), be dense to capture the maximum ridership, and feature a mix of housing and commercial space. The new parking should not be free (otherwise transit is competing with itself by subsidizing driving), but it should be cheaper than the cost of parking in Downtown LA.

    • By providing free parking at the Metro station, you’re giving a greater number of drivers more incentive to get off the road. Granted, they’d drive from home to the station, but once they do, that’s one less car clogging up the 101 towards downtown.

      I’d like to see the Metro serving more than just those who live within walking distance. I imagine paying for parking on top of the fare would be a deal breaker for many.

      I don’t see it as subsidizing driving, as many of these people have no other feasible way to get to the station, and would be driving anyway, and even more. This is subsidizing NOT DRIVING.

      And I like the idea of doubling the number of spaces. I have friends who would be using the subway to commute if they weren’t constantly shut out of the parking lot by 8am.

      • The fact that the parking lot is full means there are more people who want to park there than there is space for. By continuing to provide these spaces at low cost or free, Metro is absolutely subsidizing driving. They are just letting drivers compete by arriving early instead of paying for a parking spot. Parking pricing should be set so that the lot just fills rather than turning people away. The funds from that can go back into transit operations. Free/excessively cheap parking means that transit riders/taxpayers are subsidizing driving.

        Furthermore, there is an opportunity cost to providing any parking. A single parking spot has a rough cost of $25,000. Instead of building parking, Metro could develop this land into a more productive use which would push more funds back into the transit system. Providing parking may attract some riders. But at the cost per parking spot, they may be able to attract far more riders by improving service, etc.

      • “By providing free parking at the Metro station, you’re giving a greater number of drivers more incentive to get off the road. Granted, they’d drive from home to the station, but once they do, that’s one less car clogging up the 101 towards downtown.”

        The downside is that those cars will remain parked there for over 10 hours a day doing absolutely nothing but just sit there eating up valuable land space. And you need to provide security, the parking lots need to be maintained, they need to be kept in good shape from litterers, all by taxpayer dollars, and they only get around to them when funding is available.

        Overall park and ride lots are a big money loser and not ideal for taxpayers. In the best interest of taxpayers, Metro should be finding ways to reduce taxpayer dependency and diversify their revenue sources with value capture of their own Metro owned real estate properties, not continue to go down deeper in the red and continued reliance on taxpayer money by giving away and building more free parking.

  15. “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.”

    Yes, let’s continue to waste our precious and ever limited land spaces for more parking.

  16. I hope Metro plans to leave enough space for a future extension of the Orange Line down Chandler towards the Burbank Metrolink station (hopefully in conjunction with an extension of the bikeway all the way to the same spot).

  17. Whoever develops parcel #2 should be required to add a second portal to the station (not counting the Orange Line connection). When inside the North Hollywood station, you can see a half-finished mezzanine level on the south side of the station.

  18. Um – replacing 1000 parking spaces with 2000 parking space can not be responsibly called “replacement parking” – it’s a wholesale expansion, doubling! It’s not replacement parking. It’s just not. In my opinion, it’s also nutty and cost-prohibitive. Requiring $50M (2000 x $25,000 per space conservatively) in parking is a dead weight that Metro is hanging around the neck of a site with a lot of great potential to be walkable and truly transit oriented. I’ll just mention that favoring parking over, say, increased walkability and bus service is bad for the environment, for metro ridership, and frankly an elitist slap in the face of the majority of Metro riders. Why does Metro go so far out of it’s way to subsidize car owners?

  19. My suggestion: build it similar to the concept of the Tsz Wan Shan bus terminal in Kowloon, Hong Kong where the bus terminal is located right underneath a huge shopping mall (or the shopping mall was built right above the bus terminal)

    The North Hollywood Orange Line bus terminal is a perfect opportunity for Metro to build up valuable real estate properties, both commercial and residential.

    The Suisman North Hollywood master plan looks nice IMO