HWR, June 20: transit and the housing crisis, Gold Line parking, the Musk tunnels vs L.A. traffic

Programming note: If I sound 2,000 miles distant this week, I’m working Very Remotely — I’m back in Cincinnati dealing with the wonderful world of assisted living facilities. FWIW, traffic here is getting a little worse every year and has me shouting Midwestern things such as “geewillickers you are a shamefully bad driver” and “double hot fudge darn it, I used to be able to drive to the UDF in two minutes and find parking.”

Art of Transit:


Metro Bike Share launches in Pasadena on July 14. This station is at the intersection of Lake and California. Those are both pretty busy streets with no bike lanes — that’s the city of Pasadena’s call, btw — but there are some residential streets nearby that make for some very nice riding.

Steve Lopez: Everyone loves L.A. — and that’s the problem (LAT)

A smart look at the region’s housing challenges/crisis. As Lopez writes, there’s no easy way out. Increasing supply would likely help…as long as we’re not just increasing the supply of expensive housing that’s out of reach to too many.

The key may be charging developers a ‘linkage fee” when they build — with the fee going to help build more affordable housing. It’s controversial in the development community (shocker!) and the L.A. City Council — which has historically been criticized for being a little too well-tuned to the needs of developers — may not go for it.

Back in Days of Yore when I covered the L.A. City Council for a certain newspaper, there was a proposal for something sort of similar that went by the clunky name of ‘inclusionary zoning.’ The idea was to require more affordable units as part of each development. Besides being a mouthful, the proposal got kicked around among the Council. It was eventually shelved in the Hall of Make-It-Go-Away Legislation.

Read the Lopez column. He covers some other things that could help. One thing different from the past: we have a larger transit network that will continue to grow, meaning it’s a lot easier to build housing near rail than in years past (when there was little to no rail!). Back then, development was often stifled due to traffic concerns — but perhaps that won’t be as much of an issue as in the past.

Metro does some joint developments on property the agency owns near projects (typically on land used to stage construction). The agency has adopted a policy that 35 percent of housing units in its joint developments be affordable to households earning 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) or below. The agency also last year set aside funding to help build more affordable housing.

Opinion: Metro jumps the gun for charging for parking in Monrovia (Monrovia Now)

In this letter to the editor, the writer says it would be better for Metro to wait to charge the $3 daily parking fee until there is more demand for parking near Monrovia Station. The new fee begins June 26 at APU/Citrus, Irwindale and Monrovia stations — click here for more info.

Metro argues the fees help open up more parking for actual transit users. FWIW, there is a transit-oriented development (called Station Square) being built next to Monrovia Station and the old Santa Fe depot there will eventually be restored.

Parking is already tight on weekdays at Monrovia and I think it’s fair to say that demand will likely go up. It will be interesting to see the parking situation after the fees begin.

Two sides still fighting over 710 Freeway extension turn to attorneys, Legislature to lobby for Caltrans vote (SGV Tribune)

And the bickering goes on, although at this time there is no funding available due to the Metro Board’s decision last month to pursue local street improvements instead of the tunnel.

Elon Musk says Los Angeles is open to using his traffic tunnels (Endgadget) 

Musk, the entrepreneur behind Tesla, the Hyperloop and other high-tech endeavors, says he’s talking with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti about digging tunnels under the city for car traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians. Although the details of what and where have yet to be unearthed (boom!).

I do give Musk credit for understanding the ground upon which he plans to dig…(boom again!)

The anti-Uber (NYT)

Ride sharing has been around this Central Valley farm town long before Uber and Lyft — and now the local government is getting into the business, recognizing that the local bus service is..what’s the phrase…no good.

As Uber Burns, Lyft Promises to Meet Paris Climate Commitments (Citylab)

Sounds nice on paper, which is often a very different thing from reality. Lyft says it will have a giant fleet of autonomous, electric vehicles all powered by renewable energy providing one billion annual rides by 2025.

Lyft gave 160 million rides last year. One billion is lots more than 160 million, so says my calculator.


13 replies

  1. Daily parking in Irwindale Station starts today. I take the Gold line 5 days a week. Metro is wasting my time going daily to the machine to buy the parking ticket. Can they increase the monthly parking permit so riders do not have to go daily to the machine? Yes, the machine saved my information but the hassle of daily stopping/paying tickets or logging in to the internet everyday is a waste of time. We already spent so much time commuting in Southern Cali, and Metro still ask us to go to the machine daily to pay our parking. Is there a better way to resolve this issue?

  2. Elon Musk should use tunnels and hyperloop technology to connect the port with a depot somewhere outside of L.A. so we can reduce the number of diesel trucks traveling through the city.

  3. Escalante River. Photo was taken looking NNW from about 37.3 N, 110.9 W. Utah has magnificent scenery from the air and on the ground.

    • You the man, Charlie! Shortly after crossing by river we got to Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell and that was easy to identify. The in flight maps plus Google Maps sure make it a lot easier to figure out what I’m shooting from steerage class 🙂

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve, actually you are the man! You are honoring your father and mother. Blessings on you.

  4. Perhaps the first tunnel project That Elon Musk should take on is the 710 freeway tunnel.

  5. Had Metro combined an announcement of increased transit options, new shuttle services and bus routes, to Goldline stations with the new parking fees, that could have come off as kind of positive. As implemented, it just looks like a pure money grab by a bunch of bureaucrats with job security.

    I get that Metro has an institutional bias against cars and implementing parking options for their customers, but the east Goldline runs through a less dense, suburban area. Existing mass transit options to Goldline stations are extremely limited and only available along a couple of corridors. If Metro was truly interested in their mission of: “…an efficient and effective transportation system…” and their goal to “Increase transit use and ridership” they’d be working on new options to assist east LA county residents get to Goldline stations, not dissuade them with unnecessary increased costs to transit. It is very disappointing.

    The Irwindale station could be a perfect hub location for potential riders; next to the 210 freeway, central location in east San Gabriel Valley, lots of potentially available land for park and ride, and NOBODY would be using the parking for anything other than commuting (have you ever been to Irwindale?). It is really frustrating, the ridership potential of the Goldline is so much higher than the usage.

  6. Thank you, Mr. Hymon, as always, for sharing these kinds of materials. I do kindly (and respectfully to Mr. Lopez as well as you) disagree with the comment that Mr. Lopez’ thoughts are quite as “smart” as you suggest. Reason? Even with the advent of the Elon Musk-type car (autonomous, also hopefully “smart”) and even with the hoped-for abundance of “rail” transit in some form such that more housing can be developed near it — surely a major key in unlocking both the puzzle of homelessness and the larger puzzle of how LA will remain viable in mobility terms as the current century unfolds, the simple fact is that for various reasons that space limitations do not permit discussing, LA has shoehorned many of its hopes and expectations for a 21st Century approach to transit “mobility” and the economic gains that such mobility should support on light rail transit (LRT). Except in the most affluent of corridors along Wilshire (a project that I unequivocally support as the “game changer” it can be on both of its “ends” and throughout the entire corridor from west to east), and currently, of course, the Red Line to the North and West of downtown. LRT, as important as it can be in the broader mix of transit options available to provide our citizens with the mobility we must have, simply flags and cannot sustain cross-county and major moves north-south in the nation’s largest (geographically speaking) county, whose breadth is nearly 75 miles across in some places and whose development “nodes” are so spread apart, yet in many cases, begging for socio-economic attention which only substantial and reliable heavy rail transit can afford. What is sorely needed is to understand the costs and benefits of not having the more substantial spine that will serve larger numbers of people reliably and serve folks who should properly be afforded to right to anticipate frequent (2-4 minute headways) service permitted by HRT Among other things, the environmental review process is in danger of being relegated to a “check-the-box” status by not including as an analytic reference point an alternative to an LRT (and, in come cases, BRT) set of options in the form of HRT. Yes, it can be very expensive. But the cost of our children and future generations will also be writ large. This requires greater attention going forward, including the wise use of technical assistance to both impacted and to advocacy groups who need to be better informed about the pros and cons of the various modes, and I hope that given the candor you have encouraged in many of your “Source” comments, you will follow your journalist’s instincts and help flush out the facts concerning costs and benefits of this approach (e.g., to the east of DTLA and even to the southeast (WSAB) and, of course, in the broader Sepulveda corridor, among others). Thanks again.

    • Problem with HRT is it doesn’t take any cars off the road. Light Rail is better for the urban fabric.

  7. The major issue I have with people moving into my city is that after 3 months, there is a “I can call shots” attitude in wherever they end up. This is a big reason we see gentrification. Forget respecting the people that have been here their entire lives, which seems there are few in our major centers of activity. Los Angeles went up for sale pretty much after Staples Center was built. We were passed the dangerous era in the 90s which gave us crap police, which led to riots, and then the Northridge quake. It seems that many people wanted to live here, but the risk was not worth the reward since living in Echo Park, and other areas that are now gentrified were not welcoming unless you just simply did not let it bother you.

    Im really embarrassed at how Los Angeles has facilitated trust fund culture, while many still work just to stay afloat in there neighborhood and could care less to pay for Avocado toast! We had avocados in our backyard growing up!

    I’ve learned to adapt but whats unfortunate is that the night life in LA has changed to cater to TOMS and Flannel, while attempting to keep its edge. The double edged sword of Los Angeles was it was appealing because yes, you may catch a real live action scene. Los Angeles is safe now, but with that comes Disney Annual pass holders making choices and demands from our politicians, while in the meantime people that are generations deep are being marginalized and forced to move further south or into warmer areas of the valley.

    Come the holidays, they all go back home, our streets are empty and life is somewhat peaceful. I wish it were different, but Los Angeles has been for sale for too long.

  8. As far as I know, Santa Monica has the developers’ fee that Lopez describes as an option offered to those who decline to include affordable housing in their construction. Since developers know they won’t get nearly as much revenue over the years from low-rent units, they tend to just pay the fee (with very few exceptions).

    With the parking situation, does the Monrovia station have adequate bus connections? I know there are fewer Metro lines in the SGV, but am not familiar with local agencies. People will need that choice; I hope Metro takes it into consideration when revamping their bus schedules.

    • Hi Pat;

      There are three bus lines that stop at Monrovia Station — Metro Local 264 and Foothill Transit 270 and 494. I think it’s safe to say that for many in Monrovia, driving is the quickest way to get to the station although there are bus, bike and walk alternatives — but folks need to do some planning work to make those work if time is a factor (and it usually is).

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • I took Lyft the other day from Main Street Monrovia to the station. I’ve noticed that it combines seamlessly with transit.