How L.A.’s commute times stack up against other big cities: HWR, April 24

•Metro has apologized after a contractor painted over extensive graffiti that had vandalized and concealed a mural from the 1984 Olympics along the 110 freeway in DTLA, according to LAist. The agency said it will work to help restore the mural. Here’s the full statement:

“The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has determined that a mural entitled “Hitting the Wall” was painted over by its graffiti-abatement contractor on February 26, 2019, due to extensive graffiti (see photo attached). Metro is committed to working with the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) to resolve the matter.

“As part of the Freeway Beautification Program, Metro has been providing, through its contractor, supplemental landscaping, graffiti abatement and litter removal along this stretch of the 110 freeway on Caltrans’ right of way. Due to the extensive graffiti coverage on the mural, our contractor did not recognize that there was a mural under this section of wall. We apologize on behalf of our contractor and will move forward to resolve this matter with SPARC.”

Art of Transit: 

•Using Census Bureau data, the firm Geotab looks at average commute times in big cities across the United States. Los Angeles clocks in at 33 minutes, which is better than Washington D.C., Boston, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta and Chicago.

The equally interesting number: Geotab looked at what percentage of commuters in each city can complete their commute within 30 minutes and 60 minutes — those times for L.A. were 54 percent and 96 percent, respectively. Which means, in short, that L.A. is on on par with other major cities when it comes to drive times.

Meaning, in short, that L.A. isn’t quite the traffic freak show that many Americans make us out to be. In fairness to those who despise our traffic, we certainly win on volume and size of the region. We also likely win on the length of our rush hours and the intractability of some of our traffic issues.

To say it plainly: our traffic is no treat and isn’t really defensible. But our sprawl and urban planning are common to the rest of the U.S. and the narrative shouldn’t be that L.A. is uniquely bad but that other American cities have more often than not followed our lead. Thoughts?

Oh, and this little issue:

•Joe Linton at Steetsblog LA has a good post on the Vermont Transit Corridor bus rapid transit project. He supports a BRT line that would run down the middle of the street and be more robust than other alternatives (entirely curb running or a mix of center/curb running). Excerpt:

Including more robust BRT in Metro staff recommendations is a bold step in an important direction. If only watered-down versions of BRT are considered for very high ridership corridors like Vermont, then bus riders are not being taken seriously. High quality BRT could exceed the $522 million in hand, but not by much. In any case, BRT would be an order of magnitude less expensive than rail. The majority (eight+ miles north of Gage) of a center-running BRT facility would have to remove parking and/or car traffic lanes, so the political cost might be a bigger obstacle than the construction cost.

That is a sound analysis.

•More on SB 50, the state bill that would pre-empt local zoning laws and allow more housing to be built near frequent transit lines across the state. This LAT story is about a new report by the city of L.A.’s planning department that found the bill would change zoning on about 40 percent of developable land in the city and about six percent of the single-family parcels in the city.

Some SB 50 related tweets — including news from the bill’s author that some of the bill’s requirements will only apply to counties with more than 600,000 people. That is designed to ease opposition from rural areas:

I have no idea if SB 50 has a shot at passage this year — a similar bill by Wiener died in the Legislature last year. Two big sticking points are that many cities don’t want to hand over zoning to the state and that many single family homeowners don’t want homes in their neighborhoods to be torn down and replaced by apartments. Another issue raised by opponents: the bill could promote gentrification by resulting in more market-rate housing than affordable housing.

Proponents also have some pretty good arguments to make, namely that there isn’t enough housing in the state, not enough is getting built in places where it should and it’s often far too expensive for normal people to afford. Stay tuned.



5 replies

  1. I’m tired of these ugly murals that look amateurish. They must repeal protection for murals. They are exactly a nuisance since they attract vandals. It’s weird that a defaced mural must now be repainted when it was damaged in the first place by neglect. The rule should be maintain it or its gone. I suspect no one has the funds to keep maintaining it. That’s why they have crews to paint over graffiti in the first place and hope no one notices. Are they that dumb? No, they hope no one notices. No one notices.

  2. When I worked at Gateway Plaza and attempted to use the Red Line to the 4 Line to get home at night it not only took twice as long but in addition I could shop at Ralphs and still get home sooner by auto.

    Since the MTA was created service has deteriorated and not as reliable as it was when we had the RTD and it was run by transit professionals that had transit experience instead of text book knowledge.

    The this idea of the state taking over city planning is just another attempt by the liberal establishment to attempt to decide WHATS BEST FOR US.

    The Orange Line was built on a former Pacific Electric right of way. The Silver Line Operates primarily on the 110 Freeway and 10 Freeway Busways. The idea of taking out traffic lanes or parking lanes on Vermont Ave. is pure stupidity. Vermont Ave currently is very busy and suffers from gridlocks along much of the length of the street. In addition many older buildings still exist along the street that have no additional available parking except on the street. Lastly from experience operating a bus on the Spring St. counter-flow lane the BRT buses will be held up by local buses when the curb lane is used. Again we see the lack of common sense and transit experience when proposing these projects.

  3. Along the Yucca Corridor not far from Hollywood/Highland station, some developer bought two parcels of land of what used to be some regular apartments. It’s Hollywood I thought, it will be demolish and something grand will take its place. Nope! They’re going to use the same exact structure flip it and turn it into the Hipster inn. Why are you bad developers? To be honest I think the people displaced were done a favor.

  4. SB50 will destroy the small blue collar and middle class neighborhoods which make our city less of a monolith. Developers are taking over my entire area, including all levels of middle class, because we “live near a transit line.” But not only do these transit lines not go where most of us work, not only do they not run 24/7 for my neighbors and I who work swing and night shift, but also the apartment buildings under construction are not replacing the small lower-income apartments and single family homes with truly affordable housing — they are building luxury condos with a far fewer number of what they consider affordable but out of reach of the families being displaced.
    I am all for creating ways for the working poor to have housing. If these places were being replaced with truly affordable units, I’d feel differently. But they are not. If this new housing was for homeless families, I’d be happy to say yes. Instead, it is deliberately overdeveloping and gentrifying older areas and creating more homeless families, seniors and singles.
    Until our public transit system has a much broader reach and runs 24/7, until these developers can offer 1:1 replacement housing for those living in family homes and reasonably priced apartments, until people rather than dollars come first, this problem will not be solved by SB50 or any other plan that ignores neighborhoods and the true cost of living compared to income.