Things to listen to whilst transiting 1: what if you went online, looked up the guy who bullied you in grade school and discovered he was in Oakland running a motorcycle club called the East Bay Rats? If you’re Alex Abramovich, you travel west and reunite with your childhood tormentor and write about it. An extremely entertaining Fresh Air interview — especially for those watched “Sons of Anarchy” and wondered how a real biker club operates.
Things to listen 2: Another Fresh Air episode, this time with the actor Sarah Paulson, who plays prosecutor Marcia Clark in the new FX mini-series on the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Good insights into the acting process and Hollywood.
Art of Transit:
Santa Monica loses another opportunity for much needed housing growth (Santa Monica Next)
Really interesting story by Jason Islas. The city of Santa Monica has added only 10,000 people to its population since 1960 (the city has about 92,000 currently) and rents are among the highest in the region. Jason says that new housing is desperately needed but new housing has also become difficult to build because of community opposition.
Why? Traffic concerns, of course.
To prove his point, Jason points to a parcel on Wilshire Boulevard that until recently had a liquor store and parking lot. Since 2010, two development proposals have come and gone — one for 26 units, the other for 83. The site was recently sold to a retail developer, the previous owner apparently having given up. Jason has other similar examples of development proposals that went belly up.
In the past decade, Santa Monica has seen new development, particularly in the downtown area near the Expo Line extension (which opens May 20). A lot of that has skewed toward the high-end price-wise. Little of the new stuff appears remotely affordable to the masses.
The inevitable question: will the Expo Line’s arrival in SaMo ameliorate the traffic concerns? Probably not. I think the train will be a nice alternative to traffic — and SaMo has done a great job adding bike lanes and keeping the city walkable. But it’s also an insanely popular place with an ocean and too many attractions, jobs and parking. I think building there will remain tough sledding despite there being room to do some neat stuff.
Related: check out this post from late last year looking at 12 local communities — including SaMo — before and after transit.
Related: LAObserved reports that Santa Monica is on the verge of getting its 20th Starbucks outlet.
The problem is not safety-related. The gates come down as they should. Problem is, they are staying down too long after a train has passed, needlessly tying up traffic.
Metro says they’re working to replace the 98 faulty mechanisms by June or possibly sooner. A Metro spokesman said the manufacturer is providing replacement parts at no cost to Metro.
Metro says that it is releasing the spending plan for its potential sales tax ballot measure on Friday. The article quotes some Metro Board Members who have been briefed on the plan and other sources. The issue of geographic equity is raised — unsurprisingly, as it has always been the issue in previous county transit plans.
One thing to remember: this is a draft plan by Metro staff. There will be a public comment period and the Board will have final say on what’s in the plan. The media articles are educated guesses about what’s in the plan. See image at right please 🙂
Here’s Metro’s statement on the plan, which the agency says will be released Friday.
Streetsblog LA editor Damien Newton posts his initial reaction. The comment thread has a lot of rumination.
One local transit observer, Mickey Labrador, has already drawn a future rail and busway map based on what’s rumored to be in the plan. Is it accurate? We’ll know in a few days.
Ethan Elkind wasn’t a fan of the Gold Line extension to Azusa in his book “Railtown” and he’s still not of the opinion it was a smart investment when it comes to building transit. He says it was built because of politics and the need to get votes from the San Gabriel Valley. Excerpt:
Better mass transit is necessary across the region. But not every part of the county has the population to support rail. In the case of the Gold Line, we’ve brought expensive train technology to a generally low-density area that could be more economically served by bus rapid transit or commuter buses running in the [rail] right-of-way.
It’s probably worth considering two things:
•As of today, Metro just added some longer rush hour trains to accommodate the many new Gold Line riders, as well as the existing ones. Parking has been filling up at most of the new stations, too.
•Politics played a role in everything in Measure R — and geographic equity is always a concern in a county the size of ours and, quite frankly, should be a concern.
While Measure R set aside about $2 billion for potential Gold Line extensions (the other to South El Monte or Whittier) in the SGV, Measure R also set aside about $5 billion for Westside rail projects, not including the $1 billion in seed money for whatever the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor project turns out to be. I think that’s money well spent, now and into the future.
I agree that the cities served by the new extension should do everything possible to get people to and from the stations. Quite frankly, I can say the same thing about a lot of existing rail stations, including those on the Westside and in other cities.
What’cha think readers? I know I spent a healthy chunk of the past week reading about and experiencing heavy ridership on the Gold Line.
Will Metro’s tunneling under Los Angeles spur a 710 tunnel? (Los Angeles Newspaper Group)
Short answer: it very much remains to be seen. As the article points out, tunneling is nothing new and has been accomplished successfully in our region and around the world. I hope this does not come as surprising news.
A draft environmental impact study was released last year for the SR-710 North project that seeks to improve traffic in the area around the gap in the 710 between El Sereno/Alhambra and Pasadena. A freeway tunnel is one alternative. Caltrans and Metro are working on responding to public comments. A Board vote on any alternative is not currently scheduled.
One thing is for sure: Metro has said time and again that there will be no funding for the project in the potential ballot measure.
Recent How We Rolls
March 11: another Gold Line Foothill Extension review, more ballot measure talk.
March 10: take our poll — have you ever seen police give a ticket to driver for a crosswalk violation?
March 2: once again, we write of transit vs traffic (this time in the 210 corridor)
March 1: with the new Gold Line extension, what changes will come to the Foothill cities?
Feb. 29: American commute times keep inching up.
Categories: Transportation Headlines