New York Times Looks in on Development and the Expo Line

7_7_10_legado.jpgThe future Legado Crossing in Culver City got mixed reviews because of its low height.

Yesterday, the New York Times published a piece on the coming Expo Line and what it’s going to mean for development in South L.A. and West L.A.  In truth, you should find time to read the entire article, but here’s a quick summary in the mean time.

  1. Developers are a lot more excited, and the development plans are a lot farther along, for Phase II projects along the Westside than for projects within Phase I in South L.A.
  2. A focus of the article is how transit and T.O.D. (even though the article avoids that term) will change Los Angeles from a sprawling car-town to a dense transit-town.  However, there’s a lot of places that want to avoid density, especially amongst the people who complain most traffic on the Westside.
  3. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas believes development along Expo and the future Crenshaw Line are crucial to the development of South L.A.
  4. The development that will run adjacent to the Expo in Culver City is five stories high which makes the residents happy; but many development experts, including those at Metro, think it’s too small.
  5. Westsiders want bike parking.
  • The people who want to “avoid density” need a time machine more than anything else in the real world.

    Expo is going to be so popular that people are going to wonder why and how they went so long without it.

  • S.S. Sam Taylor

    2 Major errors of fact in this article:
    1. Population density along Expo (sleeping, living) is greater than along Wilshire Blvd. These numbers are from Darrell Clarke from a Friends4Expo
    Transit presentation in 2000. When these numbers were calculated, the route followed Venice and Sepulveda. The numbers may have gone down when the Line was shifted to the Right-of-Way.

    2. USC does not have any underground stations. The rail line does thread underground on the south-east corner of the campus to avoid freeway ramps
    and other heavy traffic issues. All the USC area stations are on the surface.

  • Peter Smith

    i visited the Mariachi Plaza Station yesterday — i was expecting to see some new development, or renovations happening, but there was nothing new-ish there. Nada. it was more than a surprise. place looked dilapidated. everything was closed down or closing by about 6 pm. iron bars on all the windows. drunk dudes on the streets getting their 20/20 Mad Dog on.

    is a bad economy enough to make _absolutely nothing_ happen? i didn’t see the area before the station was built — was it even worse before?

  • It was the same.

  • Man, one of those developments is going to have 700 hundred car parking spaces! WTF?!

    There is a quote about Culver City’s development not being viable at only 5 stories of building.

    If you have to add all the frickin’ parking that is “required” (per insane and nonsense local zoning law) you end up with projects that are not viable because the cost of parking them is 30% of the project cost!

    Get rid of the parking at developments right next to a train station you newbs! You’ll make more money building less stuff that way – just what the neighbors want, and better for your bottom line.

  • eric

    I’m glad to see an article about all the good things that will be coming out of the expo line. I can’t wait for it, it’s sooo long overdue. In fact I think we should all push to have the line opened in phases to we can all start using it sooner rather than later. For instance why not open the line to the national station around the same time the Culver City station opens? It looks like the Culver City station will open after the rest of phase one opens, but after the construction on phase 2 has begun. It also would be good since there is a law suit pending on the station right past national. Think about being able to bike to a train in as little as a year from the robertson, la cienega, USC, downtown area. Can’t wait. I won’t be watching my life fly by me on the 10 freeway anymore.

  • Stuff Shredman

    ubrayj02 comments about the 700 required parking spaces and offers as a solution: getting rid of so much parking.

    In theory, I like the idea of high density and TOD. However, this is predicated on a *useful* infrastructure for alternative transportation being in place *first*. We should encourage alternative modes of transportation by increasing their utility, instead of making driving as painful as possible.
    Because LA’s infrastructure is not bike friendly and the density of trains, etc has not reached a successful level of utility.. the fact is, that most everyone that lives in this complex will own cars and will use them. The density will cause congestion nightmares and significantly decreasing the parking will just push these autos out onto the streets for parking… space that could be used for nice wide bike lanes.

    We need to get the cart behind the horse before we go building high density stuff and remove parking spaces.

  • wanderer

    The Westside of LA is probably not yet at a point where its viable for a devewlopment to zero out parking (how about somebody try this in Downtown?). The question is are they substantially reducing the amount of parking from what would otherwise be required? Is the developer committing to actively marketing transit options at the site–including buses–not just sitting passively? Is there a car share and bike share program? While cold turkey, ecologically desirable as it might be, is kind of tough, there’s a lot that can be done between business as usual and no parking.

  • @Stuff and @wanderer, wouldn’t it make sense to remove the minimum parking requirement and then allow the developer to decide how much parking will sell? Because we require so much parking in LA, developers tend to “bundle” it in with the housing, which forces people who don’t drive to pay for parking spaces they won’t use.

    If we remove the minimum parking requirement, developers can use their real estate skills to build as much parking as they think will sell. They also won’t build parking that isn’t worth the land and construction costs, something that often happens now: we’ll require 300 spaces and the last, say, 50 require digging another level below ground, and cost $90,000 each. No one would pay that much for parking, and in an unregulated market those spaces won’t be built. Some spaces would be built, not none, but not way too many like our codes now require.

    Also, @Stuff, I do think we have to make driving painful at the same time that we make biking, walking, and transit better. Why should we give valuable urban land away to drivers for free, then charge transit riders $1.50 to ride the (also valuable) bus? In New York City, which has indisputably excellent transit, most people who have free parking – which includes many public employees who receive reserved curb spaces in Manhattan – drive to work. Free parking is an invitation to drive, and transit doesn’t stand a chance against the private car when it is being subsidized to that extent.

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Metro’s Expo Line Phase 2 opens this Friday. Though there is a lot of excitement and praise for the line, the Expo extension from Culver City to Downtown Santa Monica has also received some criticism. Note that Expo Phase 1 weathered its own criticism, and exceeded expectations. Some critics are suggesting the line could be “doomed” […]