Nella McOsker is the President & CEO of Central City Association (CCA), an advocacy organization focused on enhancing the vibrancy of Downtown Los Angeles and increasing opportunity in the region. Today, CCA represents the interests of over 300 businesses, trade associations and nonprofits. This summer, in conjunction with the opening of three new Metro stations in DTLA, CCA is launching its #GoMetroPledge – a fun, easy way to inspire people to connect, explore, or commute without the hassle of a car. Read on to learn more about CCA’s mission, and what’s around the corner for DTLA.
What is CCA all about?
We set a vision for DLTA. We’re focused on the experience of DTLA for residents and workers, as well as attracting and retaining businesses and other organizations. We advocate for housing at all income levels, as well as comprehensive solutions for homelessness.
CCA is a longstanding civic organization that has been at the forefront of DTLA’s transformation. For example, in 1999, the City of Los Angeles passed the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance (ARO), which made it easier to convert vacant buildings for new uses such as housing, hotels, and restaurants. CCA led that advocacy and has had a tremendous impact on DTLA. As we’re now facing uncertainty over the future of work and office use, we’re working on the next phase of Adaptive Reuse and building on that legacy, along with many other projects and policies to support DTLA, like our work with Metro.
Tell me about CCA’s partnership with Metro. How long has this relationship existed?
First off, Metro has been a member of CCA for a long time. But our relationship deepened this past year when a number of property owners got together to discuss public safety solutions for the 7th Street / Metro Center Station. With four different portals, this is the busiest station on the system and the “gateway” to Downtown.
Metro has shown up to the table so collaboratively, and I commend Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins for setting up a working group to discuss pilot projects that we could start right away. We’re coordinating efforts between property owners, businesses, BIDs and various Metro departments to improve the safety, cleanliness and welcoming environment around stations.
Metro – and public transit more broadly – are incredibly important to DTLA. This is our region’s transit hub and it should be a place where people’s first choice to get around is getting on a train or a bus, biking or walking. The Regional Connector is one of the best things to happen to DTLA in recent history and it’s a great complement to other mobility investments that have been made over the years like dedicated bus lanes, new bike lanes, and the bike share program. We’re really excited for all that is to come as well and we’re big supporters of many of Metro’s projects in the pipeline including the West Santa Ana Branch and an Arts District Metro Station, to name a few.
Got it. Ok, so CCA’s relationship with Metro is long, but CCA’s Go Metro Pledge is new. Tell me how it got started?
Well, we knew that three new stations would be opening in DTLA, and we wanted to encourage people to check them out and realize how much of a positive difference they can make to navigating DTLA. So many Angelenos go to other cities and use transit. We want people to remember that they can take transit at home, and that it’s often faster and more convenient than driving.
So we set a relatively easy bar in order to make it as inclusive as possible –– each organization that “pledges” commits to taking 24 rides by 2024. We also thought “24 x 24” has a little catchiness.
So one ride per week?
Keep in mind that this pledge is for organizations, not individuals (although we welcome them to take the pledge as well!). Our thinking was that that these organizations range quite a bit in size. We have some members with large numbers of employees who take Metro every day, but others with only a handful of employees. We wanted the campaign to be inclusive.
It’s kind of like doing ‘meatless Mondays,’ right? You can accomplish more by going cold turkey, but that’s harder to sustain. Incremental changes add up and can have a big (and lasting) impact.
Exactly. We didn’t want to set the bar too low, but we wanted it to be doable for our stakeholders. And small changes really do tip the scales in terms of a rider’s experience and perceptions of safety.
That’s true. Ok then, switching gears. What can we expect to see around DTLA this summer?
So we are planning a number of midday lunchtime music and performances throughout the summer. They’ll happen at different DTLA locations near or at the new stations. We’re planning to host them midweek, when more people are Downtown, and we’re hoping that they’ll draw attention to the fact that transit is right here, it’s convenient, and it’s easier to use than you might realize.
And what about into the future? How do you see DTLA changing over the long term?
DTLA is a really unique and important place for our region. It is only 1% of the city’s land but it’s 30% of the new housing that has been built, about 20% of jobs and 15% of Metro’s ridership. It’s expected to grow too – DTLA is projected to account for 20% of the city’s future housing growth. DTLA’s population is near 90,000 today and should reach 250,000 by 2040!
I am feeling so excited about the continued growth in DTLA’s residential population. If we pair that with the right investments in tourism and hospitality and our public spaces, the possibilities are unlimited. Housing is a big focus at every level of government, and DTLA is the place to do it –– it’s already dense and very welcoming to more projects and residents, and DTLA can again be a national leader in adaptive reuse. If we invest in what we know is working, we can get this right, and it will spur that economic recovery that our stakeholders are so hungry for.
Want to learn more about the #GoMetroPledge? Well, what are you waiting for? Sign up right here!
Categories: Transportation News