Calling All Transit Users: LA/2B Needs Your Feedback (That Means YOU, South L.A.)

Tracks at South Crenshaw Blvd. (near 67th), looking east. (photo: sahra)

At the end of 2012, LA/2B, the project to revamp the Mobility Element of the General Plan for L.A, announced they had narrowed down the feedback gathered during more than a year’s worth of public engagement to six draft goals and their corresponding policies.

The six goals include finding ways to put street Safety first, building a World-Class Infrastructure, providing better transit Access for All Angelenos, helping people, agencies, and businesses make better transportation decisions through Informed Choices, choosing policies that help us achieve a Clean Environment & Healthy Communities, and finding the best approach to promote Smart Investments in our transportation system.

Angelenos are invited to vote on the policies they feel will best move each of the goals forward. More importantly for South L.A. residents, perhaps, there are opportunities for people to add their thoughts on the goals or policies. Last August, I wrote about how LA/2B had struggled in their efforts to reach out to South L.A. Considering how much higher transit use is among South L.A. residents — almost 18% vs. 11% city-wide — and the fact that many users don’t have other means of transportation at their disposal, ensuring these voices make it into the mix is important.

Of greatest interest to area residents might be the opportunity to suggest improvements to the Draft Transit-Enhanced Network for North-South and East-West streets. Streets intended for enhancements that fully or partially run through South L.A. include:

Broadway (near Chinatown Cornfield Park to I-105 Green Line Station)
Crenshaw Blvd (Wilshire Blvd to Florence Ave)
Florence Ave (West Blvd to to Metro Blue Line)
La Brea Ave (Hollywood Blvd to Rodeo Rd)
La Cienega Blvd (Santa Monica Blvd to Expo Line Station)
Martin Luther King Jr Blvd (Rodeo Rd to Central Ave)
Slauson Ave (Crenshaw Blvd to the Metro Blue Line)
Vermont Ave (Los Feliz Blvd to Vermont Green Line Station)
Vernon Ave (Crenshaw Blvd to Blue Line Station)
Western Ave (Santa Monica Blvd to Florence Ave)

Tracks at South Crenshaw Blvd. (near 67th), looking west. (photo: sahra)

On the surveys, participants are asked to identify whether they might like to see No change, Moderate, or Comprehensive enhancements to each of the particular streets. According to the website, moderate enhancements might include transit stops along mixed-flow curb-adjacent lanes; the peak-hour frequency of buses at less than 8-minute intervals (all routes on street combined); enhanced late night and weekend service; signal priority and queue jumps for buses; shade, benches, lighting and shelters beyond existing standard; real-time passenger information; intermodal connections (bike and car-share, taxis and local circulators); safe pedestrian and universal access; or secure long-term and short-term bike parking.

Comprehensive enhancements might include exclusive corridors for buses along busy streets, off-board fare collection, a peak-hour frequency of buses at less than 3-minutes (all routes on streets combined), turn prohibitions to promote the free-flowing of traffic, level boardings, or multiple-door boarding of buses.

If, like me, you are not a planning wonk, terms like “mixed-flow curb-adjacent lane” might take you a minute or two to figure out. Some definitions are available here, in the Complete Streets Glossary. “Mixed-flow curb-adjacent lane” is sadly not among them. To the best of my understanding, however, it is a fancy way of indicating a bus stop is at the curb along a street where buses, cars, and bikes all move unrestricted through a lane together. If that is not the case, I’m sure that someone wonkier than I will correct me below.

As with the other topics available on the online town hall, comments are welcome. Just please make sure you do it soon! Comments on the six goals close in approximately 40 days and in 83 days on the transit-enhanced networks. If you’d like to know more about the plans for the South L.A. region in general, please check here for an overview of the draft plans released for South L.A., Southeast L.A., and West Adams-Baldwin Hills-Leimert Park at the end of 2012.

On a planning-related note (but not linked to LA/2B), as part of the effort to turn the Slauson Corridor into a pedestrian-friendly destination hub for local merchants, Mark Ridley-Thomas’ office has been hosting a series of workshops aimed at helping residents re-envision the area. They are asking that you participate in renaming of the area as part of the re-branding process. More information about that effort is available here.

Happy planning!

  • Anonymous

    The Slauson and Florence corridors ending at Crenshaw highlight the difficulties posed by political boundaries that are a historical artifact rather than a logical economic unit. There’s no planning reason that Slauson shouldn’t go right to the Marina, and Florence right to LAX.

    Vermont should go all the way to San Pedro (even if it means the city has to annex the unincorporated strip between Vermont and Normandie between Del Amo and Lomita).

  • ‘“Mixed-flow curb-adjacent lane” is sadly not among them. To the best of my understanding, however, it is a fancy way of indicating a bus stop is at the curb along a street where buses, cars, and bikes all move unrestricted through a lane together. If that is not the case, I’m sure that someone wonkier than I will correct me below.’
    Yes, that’s exactly what it means. In other words, pretty much the way things are now on every arterial street in LA that doesn’t currently have bike lanes but does have peak-hour parking restrictions.

  • John P

     They may have their reasons, like expected transit traffic or transit lines.  The funny thing about the Slauson and Florence corridors is that they go to the Blue Line, which is in unincorporated LA County, not the City of Los Angeles (Central Avenue is the border).

  • Nathan

    This LA/2B outreach seems well-intended, but how is this going to reach the people of South LA? 

    If even someone like me, who is reasonably conversant in planning-speak, is overwhelmed by the amount of different locations and kinds of improvements under discussion, then I don’t see the average resident making sense of all this.  The survey also violates the rules of simplicity and brevity in order to be as expansive as possible, which I feel is the wrong course of action: at a certain point, the more info you request, the less you will receive.

    I understand that some good-faith efforts were made to engage the South LA community and did not yield a significant response.  I would suggest the following as outreach possibilities instead:

    a) Set up a booth outside local libraries, post offices, community centers, etc. and talk to people. 

    b) Planners could go to places where people are already waiting for the bus and talk to them- it’s a perfect opportunity, since most people waiting are bored.  For example, go to Gage and Slauson where people are waiting for the bus on old railroad tracks, and ask them specific questions, like what is more important: a bus shelter or more frequent buses?  By all means, avoid planner language like intermodal connections and mixed-flow curb adjacent lanes.

    c) One could hit up the huge line at the DMV in the morning that stretches down the block.  Ask all these people what improvements would lead them to choose the bus over a car.    

    I don’t know how much more costly this kind of personal outreach to South LA would be, but I don’t see it happening any other way unless the online survey is significantly altered.  Nor does it surprise me that meetings were not well-attended.  I think more money and time needs to be spent going to specific locations to engage this community, and perhaps the fact that the area has been so under-served in the past could justify larger and costlier efforts at outreach.   

  • sahra

     Thanks for your thoughts, Nathan. I agree that the approach of the site is simultaneously too generalized and too wonk-specific for the average person to be able to make much use of it. The first outreach effort was more specific–neighborhood groups got maps of the communities and were able to mark up trouble spots and indicate the kinds of improvements they’d like to see. This time, with the focus being on how to hone the policies, I thought that the most useful place for South LA folks to voice their concerns was in the comments — there they could be as specific as they wanted about specific streets/stops/intersections using language that reflected their needs instead of trying to figure out if “mixed-use whatever” was what they wanted.

    The great challenge for this project is that there are exactly one and a half people dedicated to gathering feedback from the community and synthesizing it into policy. Jane Choi, in charge of the effort, is wonderful and very interested in reaching as many people as she can, but she hasn’t been given the resources to be able to do more. It is frustrating to see things like this — a genuine interest in the city in getting feedback but a lack of dedication of resources to make that possible. I’m trying to fill in some of that gap by writing about the things I do see and the issues people do encounter, but I can’t be everywhere either. I think we’re moving in a better direction…Jane came to a bike ambassador meeting and was part of the city planners’ tour. And I’ll keep working to connect them with groups in the area. But it does feel a little like we’ve gotten a late start. These are all problems that could have easily been predicted and planned for ahead of time (considering they are a planning agency). Late will have to be better than never in this case…