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. “

  • Jerard

    It’s funny, all D.G knows how to do is sue, sue, sue. I think he should change his name to Su-san.  Besides red-light cameras will not effect Metro since its in conjunction with the Sheriffs.

    http://www.dailynews.com/ci_18560358

  • Guest

    Jerard, how is the line supposed to operate at street-level up to Expo without condemning land one one side of the street or the other?

  • Jerard

    Guest,
    whether the Expo/Crenshaw Station is at grade or below, both will require the same amount of land acquition. The at-grade for possible street widening between Exposition and Rodeo Road or below grade for the construction of the Station box for the subway station and future entrance portal to that subway station.
    For the at-grade it can be done without any street widening by locating the station on the parcel that will be used to build the subway station.

  • Guest

    Jerard –

    The at-grade plan requires about 30 feet of property acquisition on the eastern side of the street from Rodeo Road to Rodeo Place and about 10 feet from Rodeo Place to Coliseum.  The below grade plan requires no acquisition in the section.  The property acquisitions are no longer possible because a development project is about to break ground.  This was stated by Metro staff at the most recent Crenshaw-Line Open House.  They also said the traffic impact was beyond their threshold for grade separation.

    Where are you getting your information from?  And even if you are misinformed, how could any thinking person think that a right-of-way can be created where no right-of-way currently exists without widening a street?

  • Guest

    Jerard –

    The at-grade plan requires about 30 feet of property acquisition on the eastern side of the street from Rodeo Road to Rodeo Place and about 10 feet from Rodeo Place to Coliseum.  The below grade plan requires no acquisition in the section.  The property acquisitions are no longer possible because a development project is about to break ground.  This was stated by Metro staff at the most recent Crenshaw-Line Open House.  They also said the traffic impact was beyond their threshold for grade separation.

    Where are you getting your information from?  And even if you are misinformed, how could any thinking person think that a right-of-way can be created where no right-of-way currently exists without widening a street?

  • Jerard

    Guest,
    I was aware of the development that will house the Target and a new Ralph’s but was not aware that it will be breaking ground so soon. Which shifts the dynamic of it. So point taken.  However, that still doesn’t leave MRT’s team blameless in finding a way to adjust the LPA to fit a Leimert Park Station. It begs to wonder how this couldn’t have been incorporated into the project either via below ground easement or right-of way closer to the surface that could enable a below grade station that is cheaper than the $236M and still fit within plans to extend northward.  Could it also put into question the archaic planning/land use configurations that we have that doesn’t allow certain trade-offs within a development to be considered such as a trade off of that 30 feet in exchange for less parking required or more retail or increased height of development?

    As a thinking man knowing what LRT can do, I’m thinking of a way to fit this within the project budget to achieve the funding within budget to have a Leimert Park below-grade station. Since this is a very short two block stretch can a single track set-up with an dynamic operating schedule in which trains switch back very quickly like it is done at 7th Street Metro Center at rush hour?

    It also begs the question within the budget of this project, how can we get a Leimert Park station incorporated into the project. Will it require the current MLK/Crenshaw station to be relocated to straddle between MLK and Stocker and incorporate an additional portal at Stocker with the streetscape enhancements? 

    But Guest, you hit on something in the end of your comment that as any thinking person would have to ask themselves and that is, ‘how can we add more items to the project when there’s not enough funding sources available to pay for it?’

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