Crenshaw Subway Coalition Report Card Rates Greuel Higher Than Garcetti

Eric Garcetti at the Empowerment Congress Forum on January 19

Earlier this morning, the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, the umbrella organization for South L.A. groups fighting for grade separated light rail from 48th to 59th Streets for the future Crenshaw Line, released grades for both leading candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles. Both candidates scored an “A-” for their support for adding a Leimert Park Station, but Wendy Greuel scored a “B+” for her support for grade separating the entire line while Eric Garcetti scored only a “C.”

Damien Goodmon, the executive director for the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, explains why the grades on the tunnel are more important than the grades for the station.

“…the MTA board is currently scheduled to decide the fate of the Leimert Park station at theirJune 27 meeting, which is before the next Mayor takes office, so their positions on the station may be moot. The more revealing question regarding the candidate’s willingness to put their political capital on the line for the Crenshaw community is where do they stand on the 11-block Crenshaw tunnel,” said Goodmon. . “Both appear committed to making the Leimert Park station happen if it doesn’t in June, but there are key differences in Greuel and Garcetti’s written positions on the Crenshaw Blvd tunnel.”

In May of 2011, the Metro Board of Directors voted to approve the environmental documents for the Crenshaw Line which included grade separated light rail except for the 11 blocks between 48th and 59th. The Board also watered down an amendment authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the Crenshaw community, that would have required a station to be built at Leimert Park. The approved motion cleared the station environmentally, but didn’t require the construction to be part of the bids from companies.

In other words, if a contractor could build the station inside a budget designed not to build the station, it could be built. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared a victory. Journalists (myself included) were confused because a written copy of the amendment wasn’t available. The nearly 600 Crenshaw residents were not. They booed.

Wendy Greuel two days earlier.

Currently, the Metro Board is scheduled to approve a construction contract at their June 27 meeting, but has not released the details of said contract to the public. With the Mayor’s race decided next week, and the new term of office beginning July 1, the timing of the release and meeting just happen to relieve pressure on the candidates to make a decision.

Isn’t it funny how things work out that way?

As for the report card, the Coalition’s leaders felt that what Councilman Garcetti says in public and what he’s willing to commit to in writing are too different things.

Garcetti has said in multiple community forums that he “supports undergrounding the line,” but when the Coalition requested he put his verbal statements in writing the candidate added several conditions that he did not include in his previous statements at forums. You can read the letters from both candidates Garcetti and Greuel at this link, but here are the most relevant paragraphs. Note that both letters are signed by the candidates.

Garcetti:

I have always supported under-grounding the line from 48th Street to 59th Street, and  just as I have regarding the Leimert Park station, I have advocated for this throughout  my campaign and as a longtime policy priority of my Council office. Under-grounding,  however, is unfortunately not part of the current EIR. I will continue to advocate for  under-grounding the line, and if elected will immediately confer with Supervisor Mark  Ridley-Thomas and carefully assess new options to see how we can achieve this goal  without delaying Line construction or impacting the completion of the Leimert Park  station.

Greuel made a list of what she would do to support the Coalition:

1. Make the revitalization of Crenshaw a top priority of my administration by  dedicating the financial and human resources critical to long term planning  and community economic development to the corridor;

2. Champion the effort to ensure that the Crenshaw LAX Line project includes a  station at Leimert Park Village and an underground tunnel along Crenshaw  Boulevard from 48th Street to 59th Street;3. As soon as possible upon taking office as Mayor, direct staff to review the  design options in the EIR/S as well as funding opportunities for  undergrounding portions of the Crenshaw/LAX line, including the section of  Crenshaw Blvd between 48th and 59th streets;

4. Work in consultation with the Crenshaw Subway Coalition and other stakeholders to ensure that South Los Angeles’ voices are represented on the  Metro Board;

5. Demand that construction of the rail line minimize inconveniences to existing  businesses and residents;

6. Include complete street elements in the implementation of the rail line in the  community for a holistic approach to revitalization, including pedestrian and  bicycle enhancements and streetscaping; and

7. Maintain an open dialogue and meet regularly with the Crenshaw Subway  Coalition.

“As we clearly articulated, this is solely an issue of political will – nothing else,” said Goodmon.

As the election nears, both caucasian candidates are trying to reach out to the African American and Latino communities in an attempt to increase their bases of support. In this case, candidates sat down separately with 20 of the leaders and advisors of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition. The group included former elected officials, former candidates, economic development professionals, transit development professionals, business leaders, civil rights leaders and activists. There were supporters of both campaigns and those not publicly committed.

Whether these grades impact the final race is hard to say, but even without making an endorsement it’s clear which candidate the Crenshaw Subway Coalition feels has their issues closest to heart. And if the June 27 Metro Board vote is delayed, how the candidates and their appointees vote in July will give an early signal of how seriously the new mayor takes his/her promises on transit and transportation.

  • Bob

    Objectively, there really is no reason to underground this line through here…Few crossing and plenty of ROW. In a world with limited resources, the money would be better spent somewhere else.

    The Leimert Park Station does have some merits and maybe one could make the case but pretty close to the other two stations. I personally think it would be great to support this mixed-use area and cultural heart of the community but it really isn’t a home-run to say that it makes sense. Yes, I would love a monorail station at my front door that goes to downtown and LAX too… Sometimes hard decisions have to be made and we have to see what really makes sense.

    I’m sorry but these grades are basically meaningless and just meant to pressure politicians. I give the Crenshaw Subway Coalition a B for the work to add a Leimert Park Station and a D for being objective and sounding like the typical irrational LA self-interested crazies. (Joining: Beverly Hills and Neighbors for ‘Smart’ Rail) I give Gruell and Garcetti a D for desperation by pandering to anyone that will listen although I don’t expect any less.

  • michael macdonald

    I respectfully disagree. If you have not read the Crenshaw Subway Coalition’s presentation on the line, I suggest you do: http://www.scribd.com/doc/56173236/Preparing-for-The-Decision. An at-grade section for this portion of the Crenshaw line will limit opportunity for crossings that leaves the community disconnected, hurt businesses during construction, and will limit opportunity for implementation of CONTINUOUS complete street projects, including as bike lanes/cycletracks. Calling residents of South L.A. — a community that has continuously been overlooked and undeserved — “self-interested crazies” for asking for equity and consideration in use of transit funds is as callous as it is ridiculous.

  • Jerard Wright

    “will limit opportunity for implementation of CONTINUOUS complete street projects, including as bike lanes/cycletracks”

    The construction of this project will create the Complete street implementation with wider sidewalks with Landscaping (as part of grant associated with the project), dedicated bike lane and the landscaped median with the LRT visibly down the middle of the 180′ wide corridor.

    Please refer to pages 41-43 in this PDF.
    http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/crenshaw/images/FEIS_FEIR/4.0_Affected_Environment_Part2.pdf

    “The alignment would travel at grade in a new median on Crenshaw Boulevard from south of 59th Street to 48th Street. Crenshaw Boulevard would be reconfigured where the alignment is operating at grade. Frontage roads, which contain two rows of parking on each side of the street, and medians would be eliminated. One row of on-street parking would be preserved on both sides of the street. Wider sidewalks, a new bicycle lane, and new sidewalk trees and landscaping would be incorporated. ”

    In addition, construction mitigation will be needed for the building of underground station areas – the coalition is asking for- as well as utility relocation associated with this construction.

  • Bob

    You may have read too fast or wanted to make a connection I actually did
    not. Not sure about your accusation of “callousness” but the Crenshaw
    Subway Coalition does not represent South Los Angeles so not sure your
    extrapolation is warranted. I am VERY familiar with the information in
    the presentation you referenced. The Crenshaw Coalition actually uses
    Level Of Service (LOS) in that presentation to argue against the project
    as is. If you want complete streets and livable places then LOS isn’t
    relevant. If you aren’t familiar, you can learn more here:
    http://www.pps.org/blog/levels-of-service-and-travel-projections-the-wrong-tools-for-planning-our-streets/

    The
    ROW here is absolutely gigantic and tunneling just doesn’t make sense
    by any measure and would be a waste of money for a region desperately
    trying to catch-up. Street level running will eliminate the frontage
    road and reduce traffic speeds which is probably the greatest menace in
    the area. Hint, if you potentially have a bigger picture in mind:
    Surface running means MTA will need to reconfigure the street and
    perhaps then get the greatest amount of complete streets infrastructure
    mitigation projects the quickest. Your argument for a tunnel so that
    Metro can just ignore everything above is actually ridiculous.

  • michael macdonald

    Admittedly without going back over the Metro documentation, my memory is that a bicycle route is detoured away from Crenshaw Blvd between Vernon & 48th to the residential street of 11th Ave, which I believe is related to the transition from subway to at-grade light rail, combined with vehicular turning for this section. Please correct me if I am wrong in this characterization.

    Further, I believe it may be a difficult battle to reconfigure this road in the future to incorporate a cycletrack after the light rail is implemented at grade and traffic lanes are reduced. I think this would be unfortunate, because the width of roadway north of Vernon would be an opportunity for implementation, and I feel these would be most effective if they ran continuously down Crenshaw.

  • Yvonne

    One actually has to live with Crenshaw Blvd. to understand the impact a light rail down the center of the street will make. I can’t speak to the ExpoLine rolling through West LA. It should be enough the residents of Park Mesa Heights don’t want to live with a train Santa Monica Freeway’ing down their equivalent of San Vicente.

    I want Crenshaw undergrounded between 48th through 59th. More so, I want the next Mayor to determine pension reform, to tackle the City’s budget issues, to put new ideas into all levels of unemployment, and to govern every part of Los Angeles as one entire City.

    Villaraigosa is the reason the train is headed in its direction. In the end, these two thoughtful letters are still only letters. It’s up to us as voters to make sure, no matter who gets elected, we hold Eric or Wendy accountable for the words.

  • DENNIS.HINDMAN

    The upcoming transit improvement project for the East San Fernando Valley has overwhelming community support for light-rail even though there is not enough money set-aside for this technology. The project will also hurt businesses during construction and will limit the opportunity for implementation of continuous complete street projects including bike lanes/cycle tracks. If this project was grade separated, then there would be enough room for a cycle track, as it is now, there won’t be. This would be just as deserving for it to be built underground. The projected ridership per mile is much more than the Crenshaw Line.

    County supervisor Gloria Molina thought that east LA was short changed by not getting the Gold Line extension into East LA entirely underground. That would have also brought the project well beyond budget.

    If Metro starts capitulating to these demands, then there will not be enough money to complete all of the Measure R projects. The question should then be which transit projects will be shortened or eliminated to meet all of the demands for additional costs? Perhaps the Purple Line extension should only go to Fairfax, or maybe the Sepulveda Pass transit project could just be striping on the 405 and more buses.

  • Jerard Wright

    I live right off of Exposition and the impact light rail has in my neighborhood is very positive as that I know I have access to my city and region that I don’t have to drive around for.

    Soundwise after a while the train becomes white noise its slightly quieter than the cars speeding down over 35 mph. For Crenshaw I think it will be a strong positive, in conjunction with the landscaping, bike lanes and the wider sidewalks.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Your Streetsblog Voting Guide for Tomorrow’s Mayor’s Race

|
The 2013 Mayoral Election ends tomorrow. We’ve been covering the election for almost a year and a half. As Laura Nelson’s piece in the Los Angeles Times today shows, one has to look closely to find the differences between Council Member Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel on transportation and Livable Streets issues. Both support […]

Crenshaw Subway Coalition: Community Meeting

|
  From the Crenshaw Subway Coalition ” ” The last 6 months have been an active time for the Crenshaw Subway Coalition. We helped lead a collaboration of community groups and leaders that defeated MTA’s $90 billion sales tax increase. We added to our legal representation, and have had our lawsuit against MTA moved to a […]