Ridley-Thomas’ Office in Harmony with Metro in Early Community Benefits/Protection Discussion

Last week, Metro staff responded to a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to create a community benefits plan for the Crenshaw Community, especially in the area where the line is scheduled to run at-grade, during construction and operations of the line.  The response was a power point presentation showing where the agency currently is in its thinking about community benefits and while some community activists are unhappy with the presentation, Ridley-Thomas’ office seems to think it’s a good first step.

110804 CrenshawLAX Board Presentation_Final

“First of all, we’re pleased they responded to quickly to our request,” said Dan Rosenfeld, Ridley-Thomas’ Planning Deputy.  ”They responded more thoroughly to some of our proposals than others, but overall this is a good first step.”

Maybe it was Ken Alpern’s article in City Watch calling for peace in the battle over Crenshaw, or maybe the office is responding to the news that the motion concerning moving some Measure R and Prop. A funds to cover the cost of light rail yards has been removed from the August 4th agenda, but I was expecting something a lot more critical from the Supes’ office.

Instead of fire and brimstone, Rosenfeld offered a calm analysis of what is, and isn’t in the above report.  In particular:

  • While the Supervisor continues to believe that the “Park Mesa Tunnel” that would allow the Crenshaw Line to run below-grade is the best option, they concede that unless the politics of the situation change, they aren’t going to see that.  Instead, they were happy that Metro is offering a traffic mitigation plan of some sort, and see openings to work with Metro and LADOT to get the best plan they can for the area, both during and after construction.
  • Metro has a standard local hiring program, but given the special circumstances of the community, namely the high unemployment and nervousness over the project, the Supervisor believes the local hiring numbers should be higher than usual.
  • There are already funds set aside for streetscape improvements through Prop. C and the Supervisor intends to push Metro to use those funds to beutify and improve the community connections to the stations.
  • While Metro has already tried a business protection program during Red Line construction in Hollywood, it didn’t go as well as hoped.  The Supervisor has asked Metro to look at more popular programs in Seattle and other cities before designing a plan for the Crenshaw Corridor, especially in Park Mesa.

But of course there’s a long way to go.  Damien Goodmon of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition notes that the presentation doesn’t really commit to anything and that some of the safety measures proposed are going to run into legal challenges (red light cameras anyone?).

We’ve been informed by Metro Staff that the presentation will be updated before it is given at the August 4 Metro Board Meeting.

Meanwhile, Ridley-Thomas’ office continues to work on securing a stronger commitment to the Leimert Park Station proposal that is included in the environmental studies and project description, but not yet funded.  ”There is a method available to us to find the funding and include it in the project and we will take every advantage of that,” Rosenfeld promised.

We’ll be talking more about some of the options the Supervisor’s team is looking at to fund the station next week. In the meantime, Jerard Wright, Co-Chair of Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Transportation Committee, thinks the best place to look for Leimert Park Station funding is within.

“If they’re serious at trying to get stronger commitments to have a Leimert Park station, they should take a good hard look at the current LPA to fit within the existing project budget to have the Leimert Park station and change the subway at Expo/Crenshaw to a separate surface station. That would fit within the existing budget and have a little side money left over as a down payment for a future study north of Expo/Crenshaw so that in the long run that station becomes a subway and continue northward to meet with at least the Purple Line. “