In Crenshaw, Overwhelming Enthusiasm for Leimert Park Station

For Residents of the Crenshaw Corridor the issue has nothing to do with Measure R Funds, they just want a station at Leimert Park. Photo: Waltarr/Flickr

A recent motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas calling for grade separation for nearly the entire Crenshaw Corridor and a second station at Leimert Park, has become one of the most controversial Metro proposals in recent memories.  Transit advocates across the region worry about the impact on other Measure R projects, especially because the motion wants to look at moving funds for expansion of the Green Line or Expo Line to fund the additional projects.  You can read more details about the proposal, here.

But in news papers up and down the Crenshaw Corridor, there is unanimous support for the ideas of both grade separating the line and especially for the Leimert Park Station.

An editorial in the L.A. Sentinel asks the question, “why isn’t there a station planned for Leimert Park?”  The park and businesses surrounding it is viewed by many as the cultural center of South Los Angeles, and seems to be a natural fit for a rail station, above or below ground.  The editorial is full of supportive quotes from politicians and advocates, but this comment by the Michael Jones of the Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce captures the argument for both Leimert Station and a grade-separated Crenshaw Line:

There are two things involved here. One is Metro is saying they don’t want to do it because it cost too much money; so that’s a concern that they have.

However, when you look at Leimert coming up … the Vision Theater, the renovated shops and the businesses that will follow, for that train NOT to stop at Vernon and Crenshaw, will be a travesty to the community. The other part is that the train must run underground between 48th Street and 59th Street. Why? Because the time it will take to build two train tracks in the middle of Crenshaw, the businesses will be affected in a very, very bad way.

Our Weekly has published Opinion pieces in each of its last two editions by a pair of Ph.D.’s promoting the Station and grade-separation.  Last week, Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad makes the same point slightly more succinctly.

Urban centers are designed around two things: schools and mass transit. Business comes where the transit stops, and homeowners come where the schools are. The money then follows both.

Until our community understands that mis-designing mass transit is a detriment to the economic development prospects of our community, we will never see the change we desire.

When we get it, they get it.

This week, David Horne calls for the Corridor’s black community to come out and support the Ridley-Thomas motion at this month’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors.  He notes that the early morning schedule for the meeting makes attendence difficult, but this may be the community’s only chance to get the station, and separation, they want.

But the board will have to be convinced to do so. In order for that proposal to be successful, we all need some real booties in the balcony. Black folk need to be seen in the aisles, halls and in the seats to demonstrate our sustained interest in the supervisor’s proposal. No people, no pressure, and no positive vote. That’s how it works. So get there.

Last, but never least, Damien Goodmon writes in The Wave that building the Leimert Station isn’t just good for the Crenshaw community, but the entire city:

The plight of the Crenshaw business community should concern us all. If Los Angeles is a salad bowl filled with a mixture of cultures from throughout the world, Crenshaw must be the dressing. Our region should no more welcome the destruction of the Crenshaw business community than it should Little Tokyo or Chinatown. Crenshaw is as much a part of our unique identity as a multicultural city, as any other ethnic center. We must both preserve it and enhance it with the Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail Line.

One thing that doesn’t appear in any of these opinion pieces is a broader discussion of Metro finances or an analysis of whether the Crenshaw Line is more or less important than the Expo Line or Green Line.  The issue isn’t about the larger Measure R picture, its just about an effort to get the rail line that they feel makes the most sense for the community.