What now for the West Hollywood Transit Corridor?

(I noticed an uptick in press discussions about “density and transit” and “density and West Hollywood.”  To respond to these articles, many of which are predicting doom for anyone foolish enough to try and densify their cities, I asked Dan Wentzel, a transit advocate who resides in West Hollywood, to take take a turn at the Streetsblog helm.  His article is below.  For more Wentzel, you can pretty much read any transit-related story’s comment thread here on Streetsblog.  Or check out his personal blog at Ride the Pink Line. – DN)

To see the full image, ##http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v205/coachocd/RoseLineDraft.jpg##click here##.

To see the full image, click here.

This above map was an attachment to an initial review of connecting the West Hollywood Transit Corridor to the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor via San Vicente, and possibly going south all the way to Long Beach (or San Pedro). The next step would be a full study of this corridor, of which the Santa Monica Blvd./Beverly Center portion has already been studied as part of the Westside Subway extension project. Metro has stated that while it did not recommend the West Hollywood corridor as part of the Westside Subway Extension project at this time, that the West Hollywood corridor has high potential as a transit corridor and a light-rail subway might be more competitive for federal funding, as reported here.

West Hollywood voted for Measure R more than any other city in Los Angeles and this is a very pro-transit area with lots of “YIMBYs”.

While the map shows both a La Brea alignment and this Santa Monica / San Vicente alignment, it is really a no brainer. The La Brea alignment would miss all the ridership generators further west, and the San Vicente / Santa Monica alignment would make it easier to get to the Beverly Center, Cedar Sinai, the City of West Hollywood, the Grove/Farmer’s Market and even the Sunset Strip.

Interestingly enough, there have been a couple of recent blog posts bashing the City of West Hollywood over development projects approved in expectation of an eventual subway through the city.

Patrick Range McDonald continues his anti-subway rants at the now anti-subway LA Weekly.

Former City Councilman Steve Martin, possibly looking for an issue to mount an attempt at a political comeback, rags on the City Council on the WeHo news website. That he singles out Lindsey Horvath might mean he thinks she is the vulnerable incumbent he can beat. (I wouldn’t bet on the ex-councilman winning.)

Both articles seek to berate the City Council for approving development projects before a subway was approved, as if development wouldn’t continue to take place if there weren’t a West Hollywood subway. Their focus is on traffic, as if traffic wouldn’t get worse anyway without a subway. Mass transit does not reduce traffic as much as it provides alternatives to having to drive in traffic.

I don’t take the LA Weekly seriously as this once-good rag now is no longer a progressive alternative news source and now takes an anti-subway posture. Martin’s article shows that even in a city that supported Measure R by 86%, there are still a handful of NIMBYs here as there are everywhere that care first and foremost about their automobiles, and politicians will be willing to pander to them.

Personally, I look forward to the LaBrea/Santa Monica development as will many residents of West Hollywood who will now be able to walk to the cinema. If I were running for City Council, and this is not an announcement by any means, I would say I envision a West Hollywood that is designed for the people who live, work and play here, not the motorists who simply drive through here on the way to/from somewhere else. I’d advocate continuing to support building some form of subway through West Hollywood, but in the meantime building transit-only lanes on Santa Monica Blvd., where new modern streetcars may run along with buses, possibly with the support of the City of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills (using that right-of-way), allowing a transit way between Century City, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Sunset Junction, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Downtown. I would state in my campaign platform that we can no longer and should no longer socially engineer West Hollywood or anywhere else in the area for automobiles. Of course, that would doom my candidacy, but I would say it and mean it.

As we all move forward in Southern California, we will all need to ask ourselves, what kind of cities do we want? Are they ones that puts cars as our highest priority or one that puts liveable streets as our priority?

In either case, I believe that the Westside Subway Corridor Extension Study has captured the imagination of West Hollywood, and the 86% support for Measure R indicates there is strong support for some kind of Metrorail project in the West Hollywood corridor, as development will continue upward here and throughout Southern California.

The review map above indicates an alignment that is a long way from being any kind of done deal. If we can get a Hollywood-WestHollywood-SanVicente-Crenshaw-LAX-SouthBay-LongBeach light rail line studied, in the Long Range Transportation Plan, approved and built, which are all big IFs of course, I think we should rejoice and take it.

I will continue blogging about the West Hollywood Transit Corridor as events unfold on my blog, Ride the Pink Line.