When Your Renderings Suggest the Black Population Has Been Abducted by Aliens, It May Be the Least of Your Problems

A look at the TOD proposal for two lots at Exposition and Crenshaw.

The transformation of Crenshaw at Exposition - the gateway to a historic black neighborhood - apparently also includes the rapture of the entire black population... save one undoubtedly confused person in cargo shorts. Source: Metro
The transformation of Crenshaw at Exposition - the gateway to a historic black neighborhood - apparently also includes the rapture of the entire black population... save one undoubtedly confused person in cargo shorts. Source: Metro

I should be focused on the content of the staff report regarding the mixed-use project proposal from WIP-A, LLC, a subsidiary of Watt Companies, for two Metro- and L.A. County-owned lots (below) at the South L.A. intersection of the Expo and (under-construction) Crenshaw/LAX Lines as part of Metro’s joint development program.

The site map. The project will straddle Crenshaw Blvd. south of Exposition. Source: Metro
The site map. The project will straddle Crenshaw Blvd. south of Exposition. Source: Metro (Attachment A)

There certainly is a lot to be said about it.

  • Of the 492 residential units planned for the lots at the intersection of two rail lines – one of which was sold to South L.A. residents as their connection to jobs – only 73 (the minimum 15 percent required by Measure JJJ) will be designated as affordable. Those affordable units will be reserved for families earning under 50 percent of the area median income (families of four must earn $45,050 or less to qualify, but also earn a minimum of around $30,000 or approximately three times the proposed rent);
  • The project will also feature 47,500 square feet of commercial and retail spaces, including restaurant spaces intended for locally-owned and operated businesses and a grocery store (Watt Companies owns the Slauson/Crenshaw and La Brea/Rodeo properties, both of which are home to a Ralphs grocery);
  • The project will feature open plazas, a bike hub, and car-share connections;
  • And, in line with Metro’s Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines, Watt would commit to having a business incubator-type space as well community-serving spaces.
A rendering of the proposed project, looking south along Crenshaw from Exposition. Source: Metro (Attachment C)
A rendering of the proposed project, looking south along Crenshaw from Exposition toward the proposed District Square mixed-use project. The buildings also appear to feature rooftop gardens. Source: Metro (PDF: Attachment C)

And there is something to be said about the fact that, at a meeting of the Executive Management Committee this Thursday, staff will recommend Metro enter into a 6-month interim Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with the developer before entering into the standard 18-month ENA.

A standard ENA gives the developer the space to further develop their plans, work out the terms of a Joint Development Agreement, work out ground leases with Metro, and pull together the appropriate construction documents before the project gets the full approval. The interim ENA would allow for Metro and the developer to communicate directly “about project scope and team composition, and to have an open dialogue with community stakeholders before committing to a long term ENA,” according to the staff report. It would also require the developer “to identify and enter into a letter of intent with a community-based organization for its participation in the development of the project, including the opportunity for an economic interest” during the first three months of the ENA period. [Scroll down for full text of the report.]

The more prevalent use of the interim ENA option is thanks, in great part, to the uproar over way Metro tried to rush what appeared to be a gentrifying and non-community serving project for Mariachi Plaza through official channels without even a minimum of community engagement. The community, particularly some very activist youth and their mentors, demanded that Metro do better by communities.

At what will essentially serve as the gateway to the historic Crenshaw community, it is just as imperative that the community have a chance to engage the project and the developer as much as possible.

The project from above. Source: Metro
The project from above. Source: Metro

Truth be told, however, I found it really hard to stay focused on some of those details after spotting the rendering Metro tweeted yesterday (also found at the top of article).

It that made me think that six months might not be nearly long enough for the Metro, the County, and the developer to get things right with the community.

That image portrays a historically black community as a white mecca.

Metro's tweet, which has since been deleted.
Metro’s tweet, which has since been deleted.

White people stroll, white people bike, white people regale each other with fascinating tales as they cross the street with fashionable purses, white people gaze at the tracks in deep thought and talk on the phone, and white people keep their distance from the lone black person wearing what appear to be cargo shorts across the way.

There seems to be some awareness that the overwhelming whiteness of this vision is problematic: the same rendering submitted to the Metro board for consideration includes some black cyclists (below, see also: PDF of Attachment C).

Which could be a step in the right direction if a) it didn’t appear that the women had been lifted directly from a brochure on equity in active transportation (ahem, behold); b) there were more people of color who resembled people I actually see in the community; c) I didn’t actually recognize the woman on the right as Ayesha McGowan, a badass cyclist on a quest to become the first female African-American professional cyclist; and d) the image didn’t seem so devoid of any indications that these people are in a historically black neighborhood on a historic street adjacent to an important church that is deeply rooted in the community and at a corner that used to provide both really good community eats and services to folks trying to transcend the damage done to the community by white flight and disenfranchisement.

The less blindingly white version. Source: Metro
The only slightly less blindingly white version, as seen in the documents Metro submitted to its Board of Directors. Source: Metro (See Attachment C)

Which raises the question: where is the actual community that lives there now?

Where are the impeccably dressed churchgoers? Where are the black families? Where are the elders? Where are the black and Latino students, artists, and entrepreneurs? Where are the low-riders, area fixie riders, and folks biking out of necessity? Where are the black and Latino workers and job seekers? Where are the vendors? And where is that gentleman from the Nation of Islam that sells bean pies near Rodeo?

Are we planning for them?

The image suggests we might not be.

For one, Metro chose a for-profit developer over three teams that included affordable housing developers and promised more affordable units, including one offering 51 units at 30 percent AMI (and 300 fewer parking spaces). It also declared that the proposal by the Crenshaw Corridor Venture, LLP (helmed by the West Angeles Community Development Corporation) while very competitive, scored relatively low “in proposed development program/vision and financial offer” by promising nearly $40 million less in rent over the duration of the lease. Meaning that Metro eschewed nurturing a potentially more community-serving project in favor of one that was more lucrative. [See Attachment B: Procurement Summary]

Obviously, it is difficult to compare projects’ respective viability or potential without the actual proposals in hand. But it is still possible to say that with all the changes coming to the corridor that have the potential to fuel gentrification, including the revamping of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (at the King Blvd. station) and the construction of District Square (next door), it is disappointing that there isn’t more of an effort to secure more affordable housing for transit-dependent folks at the actual stations.

As of now, the Plaza project is reluctantly offering ten percent of its 961 units as affordable (only five percent will be reserved for those at or below 50 percent AMI) and the District Square project, which is expected to have 200 units, will also likely have just the minimum of affordable units, at best. There are a few affordable housing projects slated for that stretch of Crenshaw, but most are designated senior housing. Working-class families will likely have to look elsewhere.

Recognize this place? Me, neither. But it's a rendering of the potential future of Mariachi Plaza. (Source: Metro)
Recognize this place? Me, neither. It’s Mariachi Plaza re-envisioned as a Mariachi-free Plaza del Mariachi. (Source: Metro)

For another, the lack of representation in images tends to signal either a lack of engagement with the community in the planning process or the lack of a deeper understanding on the part of the planners or consultants of who the community is and what its aspirations might be.

Too often, it means both.

In Boyle Heights, the rendering touting the transformation of Mariachi Plaza (above) not only erased the very Mariachis for whom the plaza was named, it replaced them with so many picnicking white people on a previously non-existent grassy knoll that there wasn’t room for the plaza’s current users: the Mariachis, the skaters, the dancers, the families, the community vendors, or the grassroots groups that do food distributions to community members in need.

What little trust Metro had had with the community was effectively shattered.

The project was so inappropriate and the uproar was so intense that Metro ended up having to start over from scratch – a process that has been underway for almost three years, at this point.

Metro's vision of what the Slauson corridor might look like once the project was complete includes a well-dressed couple who might be on their way to go dancing and a white guy. Source: Metro
Metro’s vision of what the Slauson corridor might look like once the project was complete (including a well-dressed couple who might be on their way to…go dancing? and a white guy…?) proves that an attempt to check all the right diversity boxes can actually show just how deeply out of touch an agency can be. Source: Metro

The graphic for the Rail-to-River project – the conversion of the Slauson corridor rail right-of-way from Crenshaw to the Blue Line (and eventually to the river) into a path for walking, cycling, skating, and relaxing – also hints at the struggle Metro has had getting planning with communities like South L.A. right (above).

When I first started covering the project in 2013, I was explicitly told by Metro and the consulting team that Metro was limiting its engagement with the community so as not to raise residents’ hopes in case funding didn’t come through.

What that meant in practice was that they studied the feasibility of the project they felt was needed – an “active transportation corridor” people could use to connect to transit on foot or by bike. There was very little consideration of what a project would look like that was more in line with what the corridor communities wanted or how they would be likely to use it.

There will indeed be those that use it to commute across South L.A., especially by bike and by skateboard, and to connect to transit.

But the dearth of opens spaces and safe public places where families and friends can gather, exercise, and relax means the most frequent users of the path are likely to be joggers and exercise station aficionados, families out for a walk with small kids, young kids learning to ride bikes, youth seeking safe and smooth places to skateboard with friends, area low-rider and other groups staking out neighborhood meet-up spots, and existing vendors (many of whom have been there a decade already) looking to grow their clientele while continuing to serve as eyes on the street.

To its credit, Metro has worked to be more transparent and responsive on the project over the last two years. But because it began designing in a vacuum, the effort to adapt that original sterile vision to the cultures, needs, and aspirations of the communities that live, work, move, and hope to recreate along it has remained somewhat hit or miss.

Even where Metro has made a genuine effort to partner with local groups representing lower-income communities of color, as it recently did with bike-share, those groups have continued to feel tokenized, misunderstood, and undervalued. [See video above; an in-depth look at the bike-share partnership with Metro coming later this week.]

Metro, they have argued, has been unwilling to hear and incorporate the full range of their concerns into planning. All of which has made them feel that their communities – the core of Metro’s transit ridership – are less likely to be properly served. And all of which has caused them to raise questions about the extent to which Metro can be counted on to help guard against displacement and gentrification as it continues to build out its system.

Rendering of
Rendering of ground floor retail in the east building of the Crenshaw/Exposition proposal, as seen in the document submitted to the Metro board. Several white people (including a hipster biker) have been removed from this rendering to make it look less overwhelmingly white, even as the sterility and generic design of the space remain the same. (See the comparative image, published last week in The Source, here.)

This may seem like quite the tangent to go on based on a couple of images. But it’s not.

These aren’t the first images that have erased the physical, cultural, social, or economic presence of particular communities, nor will they be the last.

The images we use are aspirational – they tell us something about what we hope a space can be and who it will attract. The whiteness of the figures used signals newness, upward mobility and disposable income, safety, civic engagement and vibrancy, and the notion that the space is open to all (where a black- or brown-populated space might signal the project was “for” a specific group, type of activity, or culture). For private investors tracking public investment in disenfranchised communities, in particular, these sorts of images help prime the area for speculation and facilitate its rebranding as one that is “up and coming” and ready to be remade.

The shortage of folks of color and those with varying shapes, sizes, abilities, occupations, incomes, and gender identities who can be placed into renderings suggests we aren’t ready to tackle those biases – either in the way we think about what constitutes a community or what vibrancy really means.

Perhaps more telling, it suggests we aren’t interested in recognizing and celebrating the communities that are already in our urban cores and that we do not value all that they contribute to the life of our cities.

But being able to present renderings that are truer to the communities we build for also means more than dropping in the occasional Ayesha McGowan – awesome and fierce as she may be.

For public agencies like Metro, in particular, it means historically disenfranchised communities must be the starting point, not the thing to be sanitized or molded to fit a project after the fact.

In the case of joint development projects like this one, where Metro and the County own the land but will lease it to a developer, both entities have a responsibility to make sure that engagement is ongoing and meaningful. And that we end up in a much better place than we are starting from with a much better and more community-serving project.

The proposal for an interim ENA with this developer goes before the Executive Management Committee for approval this Thursday, November 16, at 11:30 a.m. Should it be approved, the interim engagement period prove fruitful, and the project be found to be acceptable to both Metro and the community, Metro will seek a standard 18-month ENA to allow the design and preparation for construction to move forward. Find the project-related documents here.

 

  • Richard

    “As of now, the Plaza project is reluctantly offering ten percent of its 961 units as affordable and the District Square project, which is expected to have 200 units, will also likely have just the minimum of affordable units, at best. ”

    The minimum for these sites is 0. They are zoned commercial, which allows R4 uses by right.

    If they apply for a density bonus, then they are required to provide subsidized housing, but neither District square or the Plaza are applying for such.

  • Has anyone at Streetsblog LA reached out to Watt Companies to find out which architectural rendering program their intern used? Maybe then ask the software company what demographic percentages their algorithm is set for and if it can be adjusted?

    http://www.wattcompanies.com/connect/

  • Richard

    What is really disappointing is how the development fails to maximize its zoning and location.

    The base density is 374 units.
    If LA’s Transit Oriented Communities(TOC) density bonus is applied it’s 674 units(with 74 extremely low income, 101 very low income or 169 low income)

    The TOTAL floor area is limited to 900,000 square feet and it could be all commercial(but then there would be no residential units). Assuming each unit is 1000 square feet(mix of 1 2 and 3 bedrooms) there could be 500,000 square feet or office, retail, or hotel uses.
    If TOC is applied, the floor area of the residential portion of the building goes up by 50% which keeps the amount of commercial space about the same.

    If TOC is applied parking minimums for residential parking go to 0 and commercial decrease by 40%.

    This project could be larger, providing tons of jobs and housing. Instead it’s providing 70% of the housing allowed and 25% of the floor area. It’s a waste of land, effort and Metro should reject it and look for a better developer.

  • sahra

    It does appear to be a waste. And I’m looking forward to learning more about their decision on this as well… none of the projects aimed max out density, or even come close. I will have to dig around for the RFP and see what else went into the considerations here because it does seem underwhelming.

  • Richard

    This location is directly connected by rail to Santa Monica beach, DTLA, and LAX. No where else can claim that…..maybe add a hotel?

    I think this should be the starting point for any development:
    674 units(with 74 extremely low income, 101 very low income or 169 low income)
    A 300+ key hotel
    100k square feet commercial
    Minimum parking required by code

    Then give points if anyone can add office space.

  • michael macdonald

    I realize this is likely a weak attempt at humor, but you do realize that the ‘entourage’ added on these images is done outside of the modelling/rendering software, right? They’re just stock images cut and pasted manually.

  • Is it done via Cut N Paste or is it done by a software program using images found on line (such as the one lifted from the League of American Wheelmen or whatever they call themselves these days)?

    I suspect it is a software program that defaults to most recent census percentages unless told otherwise. And the intern didn’t do that.

  • michael macdonald

    I bet your stand-up routine kills.

  • Please, try the veal and remember to tip the waitstaff.

  • Quoting “METRO JOINT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: POLICIES AND PROCESS”

    (Updated February 2016):

    Page 5:

    C. FiscalResponsibility:

    1. Maximize Revenue. Joint development projects are expected to generate value to Metro based on maximizing ground rent revenues received, or equivalent benefits negotiated, for the use of Metro property.

    2. Minimize Risk. Projects should minimize financial risk to Metro.

    3. Feasibility. Projects should be viable, now and in the future.

    Page 7:

    D. Federal Policies:

    Many joint development properties were purchased with some funding from the federal government. The federal agency for transit funding, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) therefore must review and approve joint developments on land that was acquired with any federal funds. Additional details on this process are outlined in the Legal Framework section V.B. Federal Regulations.

    Page 13:

    B. FTARegulations:

    Metro joint development sites which were acquired with assistance from the FTA are subject to FTA joint development policies. Current guidance in FTA Circular 7050.1 on FTA-funded real property for joint development, stipulates that joint developments follow four criteria:

    1. Economic Benefit – project must enhance economic benefit or incorporate private investment.

    2. Public Transportation Benefit – project must provide physical transit improvement or enhanced connection between modes.

    3. Revenue – generally, project must generate a fair share of revenue (at least equal to the amount of original federal investment) and be used for public transportation purposes.

    4. Tenant Contributions – tenants pay a fair share of the costs through rental payments or other means.

    Metro joint development sites which were acquired with FTA funds are subject to and will follow FTA guidance as it is updated from time to time. Joint development projects will be reviewed individually by the FTA to ensure compliance.

    In addition, Metro is responsible to ensure that joint development projects comply with FTA Title VI Civil Rights and Environmental Justice requirements. Compliance with Title VI will be required of developer’s selected for joint development projects.

    https://media.metro.net/projects_studies/joint_development/images/JDP_Policy_0225_2016.pdf

  • sahra

    It takes a special kind of hubris to be that white guy. That white guy who, on a post addressing race and bias in planning, has the capacity to ignore any and all of the points about what the multiple examples provided suggest with regard to inclusion in planning and bizarrely chalks it up to an algorithm. That white guy who assumes the author is unfamiliar with the policy and posts it here for her benefit, forgetting that in disenfranchised communities like Boyle Heights, and now with the larger goal of creating transit-oriented communities, Metro has actually worked to prove itself capable of adapting its joint development practices to better fit community needs. That white guy who will be dissatisfied with only being to troll me on one platform and will begin to engage me with the same nonsense on twitter and/or facebook, per custom.

    Don’t [continue to] be that [really insufferable] white guy.

  • Stephano

    Okay so this has major problems. But at what point does, “What were they thinking??” stop being a rhetorical question? This proposal begs a very serious question: what exactly are Metro’s priorities when it comes to development? Certainly not housing affordability or density. What boxes does this check for them?

  • It appears the architectual rendering in question, with or without the pasted Bikeleague.org photo of Ayesha McGowan, has now been removed from Attachment C:

    https://metro.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=5554660&GUID=92F21BCC-434E-47FC-8CD3-CC822873988E

    And from TheSource post too:

    http://thesource.metro.net/2017/11/09/renderings-and-report-on-joint-development-proposed-at-exposition-and-crenshaw-boulevards/

  • Sahra,

    I honestly have no idea how these architectural renderings are made and don’t know if these are now done by humans or by a machine. Given the advances in computer abilities, and my experience with similar software, I really thought a great deal could be done automatically based on data input. But please, feel free to mock my lack of knowledge.

    Why not reach out to the offending party/ies and try to figure out who/what was the cause for the graphic that is the sole basis for this article, which is anyways now deleted from the report attachement. Or would that be journalism?

    Metro staff have strict policies to follow that emanate from both Metro and from the USDOT. You assumed the reader knew these. You did not list or link to them (why not?), so I did (and posted way too much so I now have edited).

    The policy emphasis (above) is that Metro needs to squeeze every dime of revenue it can out of these leases, especially if it wants to keep fares affordable and in line with coming USDOT requirements:

    http://thesource.metro.net/2011/01/11/infographic-how-much-transit-do-fares-really-buy/

    Everything else appears to be secondary.

    If you believe another of the proposals is better, why not inform readers it is still not finalized that Watt Companies gets this project.
    But you didn’t do that, instead you fatalistically write “Metro chose a for-profit developer over three teams…”

    Except Metro’s Board of Directors hasn’t chosen anyone yet. The Metro Staff ranked Watt Companies as the best choice based on the criteria they were given. And due to Thanksgiving, we are two weeks away from a final(?) decision being made by the Metro Board instead of the usual one week.

  • sahra

    You don’t know how renderings are made but you have no problem telling me that I’m wrong and not doing my job and then… claiming you are the victim? That’s genuinely amazing.

    Why not stop for a moment and realize this is not an isolated issue and reflect on the larger points raised before trying to explain gaffes away? For f*cks sake, it’s in the title: the renderings are the tip of the iceberg with regard to inclusion in planning – a symptom of a deeper disease.

    Then you continue, telling me I’m hiding things from readers – you even quote me – but apparently missed the places where I said I didn’t not have access to the other proposals and could not do more than raise questions, but both explain what the purpose of an interim ENA is (and why they’re being busted out more often…a history that actually matters in this context), and twice say that the ENA is subject to approval by a committee this Thursday.

    I get that you like to have the last word and are loathe to be wrong, and that when it becomes clear that you were in the wrong, your go-to is tell me to do my job. But the intellectual laziness, casual racism, and incessant demands for irrelevant answers and the insulting way they’re generally delivered are just too much. It’d be one thing if your comments added value. But they don’t. And I just don’t have time for that. Nobody does, really. So I won’t be reading or answering any more of your comments – on this or future articles – from here on out.

    Best,

    -sahra

  • Bob P

    “… that white guy.”

    Well this is has certainly taken a very professional tone…

  • Bill Larsen

    Thank you for such an interesting article that has application to nearly any project.

  • Justin Runia

    Eh, seems like a bit of a stretch, assigning race to a bunch of vague beige blogs. AFAIK, there are plenty of light-skinned black and latino people who would object to being held to some retrograde paper-bag standard of race, not to mention the historic Japanese community that has provided foothold to Korean and Chinese households in the Jefferson/Crenshaw neighborhood. Seems a bit thirsty, TBH.

    Of course, this is part of a greater dynamic that disappears Latino and Asian people from South LA; both communities have had greater population increases in South LA than those of white people, but the story of Black immigration from those communities is almost always presented as a Black/White dynamic.

  • sahra

    Oh for the love of god.

    There’s just so much to unpack there. And it would be such a waste of my time, given that the real purpose of the comment was to downplay race, exclusion, and the significance of representation, much like you do in just about every comment you leave on the articles I write.

    So I’ll just leave it up as yet one more testament to how fragile the urbanist community can be when it comes to acknowledging and engaging its biases.

  • D Man

    Of course this was written by Sahra. Is she ever not outraged about something. My favorite piece was the one where she was outraged because a park didn’t have enough trees, and then she tied it into a social justice argument.

  • D Man

    Why do you feel the need to argue with people who comment on your opinion pieces? You are stating your opinion. You also appear to be very biased in your views and prejudiced against white people as you constantly make ad hominem attacks against people based on being white (see below).

  • I’ll bite and take the comment at face value. That’s not how renderings are made. Images of people (entourage) are added manually by a live person at some stage of the process.
    At the very least it shows extreme laziness by the person making the image. Intentional racism it may not be, but the line between lackadaisical or insensitive and straight racism is very thin. (By the way, the second half of this comment is more a response to other comments in the thread)

  • D Man

    Do you not understand how government works? Watt Companies and its employees donate money to Garcetti and other councilmembers and county supervisors in exchange for getting this project. They then take subsidies provided by all of us taxpayers (Bernie calls this “corporate welfare”) in order to develop a private construction project so they can make Millions in profits. Below is a link to campaign contributions to Garcetti so you can verify the donations from Watt Companies for yourself.

    Bonin is doing the same thing with some affordable housing being developed in West LA by Thomas Safran & Associates whose employees also happened to donate to his campaign.

    None of these people give a f*ck about affordable housing or social justice.

    https://ethics.lacity.org/disclosure/campaign/search/public_search_results.cfm?showall=yes&requesttimeout=1000&viewtype=pf&cand_per_id=145&rept_type=AllCon&SCHEDULE=A%2CB%2CC&election_id=53

  • Justin Runia

    How big of you!

    I appreciate you taking the time to respond with utter scorn, you are certainly a person who can speak with expertise about engaging in good-faith dialogue with members of a community. If you can manage, please continue your workshop, it will be so very instructive to look back on, provided my white male tears don’t make it too hard to read.

    Your hot take about a 5×4″ rendering on a PDF was absolutely what we needed to know about this proposed development–I know that when I’m asked to attend important community meetings, getting to the bottom of which architectural intern committed such blatant whitewashing is usually right there in the top 5 agenda items, and nobody leaves to go be with their families until the explicit race of each grey-brown blob on those renders is put on the record. I mean, it can’t be that you are lacking for actual substance on this development, and can’t spin the potential removal of a gas station as environmental negligence, can it?

    (Personally, I’m not a big Krispy Kreme fan, so I did take it as kind of a blow when the Yum-Yum Donuts was knocked down, thankfully for me, there’s approximately 9875 other Yum-Yums and approximately 653 other Conroy’s Flowers in LA County, not to mention all the other places that aren’t chains where I can buy donuts and flowers.)

    I look forward to finding out if Metro can keep their promise of 35% affordable housing on this development, provided something more pressing doesn’t derail the proceedings–for instance, the other shoe-drop of blatant gender imbalance on all those grey-brown blobs halfway down the block to Rodeo.

  • Sludge

    I feel almost sheepish bringing this up given the weight of all this other stuff, but also in the drawings, they have erased a street. I don’t see a drop off zone for those coming to/from south of Exposition to replace what is currently Exposition Blvd. between S. Victoria and Crenshaw, no restoration of Expo between Crenshaw and Bronson, and does Bronson north of Expo Place go away too? On the busier Expo street as well as Crenshaw, it’s not safe to pick up, drop off or wait for a passenger. It’s working right now with the cutaway from construction on the east side of Crenshaw, but on the west for interacting with passengers to/from the eastbound train, that block of residential Exposition (okay, really it’s the probation dept. office) is the only safe zone for waiting. Is the plan that you have to park inside the new commercial mall lot to pick up an Expo rail passenger? Or is that gray area in Site B from overhead, shown as a pedestrian zone in the other drawings, meant to be the Expo station drop off zone?

  • jay

    It’s not about whether or not computers can “do this”. No, architectural renderings do not usually contain randomly generated crowds. 99% of the time the client requests things like “add some more people in this area” and “i don’t like the one in green put a blue shirt one instead”
    RARELY are races/skin/colors picked.
    Almost always chosen by clothing and activities of the stock humans. (bike riding etc)
    It’s totally not a race/bias/diversity thing AT ALL.
    But clients like to pick and choose just based on general aesthetics so yes, normally these are placed by hand.

  • Jeff Lee

    Metro is planning on changing the makeup of the area this is their goal.. Why else would the pictures be released if this was not the truth?

  • joshua blumenkopf

    So at the same time as complaining about gentrification, the author also complains about white flight. So which one is the problem? Also moving richer, hence typically whiter people into newer, more expensive housing does not harm nearby black people.

  • sahra

    This comment suggests an unfortunate and fundamental lack of knowledge of history – of what white flight was and when/how it happened, the extent to which it was subsidized by freeway construction and discriminatory loan practices and how gentrification is now facilitated by the depressed land values and difficult economic conditions that white flight and all that was tied up in it created. I invite you to do some light reading on the topic and on the basic history of the community and of redlining so that you can ask more informed questions next time you feel the need to piss all over the idea that race has any significance in planning and development. Here at Streetsblog, we prefer our trolls at least be informed. This comment sadly does not meet that incredibly low bar…

    https://la.streetsblog.org/2017/07/28/the-baldwin-hills-crenshaw-plaza-project-offers-window-into-history-of-redevelopment-legacy-of-white-flight/
    -https://la.streetsblog.org/2017/09/28/america-walks-walking-toward-justice-series-the-color-of-law-and-residential-segregation/
    -https://la.streetsblog.org/2015/10/02/new-documentary-about-boyle-heights-opens-new-urbanism-film-festival/

  • sahra

    *race has *any* significance

    Apologies for the error. I’ve just been so stunned at how many non-black people have felt it so important to express their disdain for the consideration of the implications of the exclusion of black folks from planning that it’s been hard to keep my thoughts straight.

    Carry on.

  • sahra

    WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK.

  • sahra

    It looks like Bronson will dead-end into a pedestrian walkway. As for Victoria, I’m not sure…My guess is the gas station will end up serving as a pick/up drop off zone for folks? They have mentioned a car-share hub for this site, which I would imagine could also double as a pick-up/drop off zone (I’m not sure – it was just mentioned, with very little elaboration), but it isn’t clear where that might be situated?

  • michael macdonald

    jay-
    I have no idea what architectural/visualization offices that you have interfaced with, but the idea that people producing renderings are selecting images of entourage with no consideration of race could not be more far off from my experience as an architect.

    “Race/bias/diversity” are issues for this community and for this project as a result. Intentional or not, to produce these renderings with no understanding for what it communicates relative to the issues of displacement and community are pressing to the Crenshaw area opens the obvious question to what other blindspots the development/design team have for this project.

  • Project approved by 4-0 vote.

    “Yes: DuPont-Walker, Fasana, Butts, Kuehl (Garcetti recused due to conflict)”

    https://twitter.com/StreetsblogLA/status/931258002744655872

  • Project approved by 4-0 vote.

    “Yes: DuPont-Walker, Fasana, Butts, Kuehl (Garcetti recused due to conflict)”

    https://twitter.com/StreetsblogLA/status/931258002744655872

  • Project approved by 4-0 vote.

    “Yes: DuPont-Walker, Fasana, Butts, Kuehl (Garcetti recused due to conflict)”

    https://twitter.com/StreetsblogLA/status/931258002744655872

  • Project approved by 4-0 vote.

    “Yes: DuPont-Walker, Fasana, Butts, Kuehl (Garcetti recused due to conflict)”

  • sahra

    a second look at the joint development guidelines suggests that the developer has the option of vacating W. Expo Blvd. on both sides, so yes, they’ll likely be claimed by the developer?

  • Dana

    You’re also not black either, by your own admission, so are you sure you want to go there?

  • Thank you for the answer. That is what I wanted to know.

  • sahra

    That can’t possibly be a serious question, considering the deeply troubling responses that are racking up here.

    I expected better from you, Hank.

  • Earl D.

    This is one of the most offensive articles I’ve read in a long time and by far the most offensive I’ve read on StreetsBlog. In the first photo (un-cropped) there are 12 people who could remotely be identified by race. Of those none are unambiguously white. At least 1 appears to be Asian, one appears to be black and 3 appear to be Hispanic. That breaks down in the following way:

    Asian: 8%
    Black: 8%
    Hispanic: 25%
    White: 58%

    With every single white person possibly being Hispanic.

    LA’s actually demographics are:

    Asian: 10.7%
    Black or African American: 9.8%
    Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 47.5%
    Non-Hispanic Whites: 29.4%

    Or, almost exactly what we see in the first picture.

    In the second picture we have 7 people who could be remotely identified by race: 3 who appear to be black, 3 who appear to be Hispanic and one who could be either white or Hispanic. That gives us the following demographic breakdown.

    Asian: 0%
    Black 44%
    Hispanic: 44%
    White: 14%

    In the 3rd photo all 4 people appear to be Hispanic and in the 5th (skipping the park scene where even speculative racial identification is impossible) 3 black 2 Hispanic and (possibly) 2 whites. You could easily make the case, using your own cherry-picked photos that minorities are over represented. And your own innumeracy forces us to engage in activity of offensive racial quota allocation to demonstrate that.

    All major cities in CA: have lost a staggering proportion of their black population over the last two decades, and CA started from a very low percentage of black folks compared to most of the rest of the nation. Through CA’s punitive law enforcement, grossly inequitable public school system and blatant racism, particularly in the professional sphere, vibrant black neighborhoods in San Francisco and Oakland, — cultural crown jewels — have been shattered. And you’re going to talk about a few blurry real-estate ads? CA has pushed millions of people into grinding poverty, the worst in the nation when adjusted for housing costs, and you’re going to spend your energy battling market rate construction? The degree of entitled NINMBYism and misplaced priorities is breathtaking.

  • That was in fact a good piece. The greater context is lusher green canopies in privileged neighborhoods never getting the axe, much less severe overpruning that afflicts the urban forests in other parts of the city.

    Your reactionary take on social justice is your own personal problem, the social justice dimension of these issues are substantive.

  • sahra

    Before you get all offended, might I suggest you go beyond your selective googling and look at the demographics for Crenshaw – the historically and majority black community where this project is set and where the development guidelines set by Metro for the project ask prospective developers to both be mindful of that fact and envision a project that references that important history and reality.

    If it wasn’t so depressing and didn’t have so many real-world consequences for people of color within our cities, I’d enjoy how thoroughly triggering even the most basic and long-standing critiques of white-centered planning were for so many.

    All my best.

    -s

  • BortLicensePlatez

    THank you for calling out this fool. I’m amazed at the moronic comments here suggesting that talking about racial inquality means somebody is racist.. But then, I guess I shouldn’t be in this country anymore.

  • rkoatse

    Same thing in Minneapolis.
    https://imgur.com/gallery/mc17A

  • Lauren Bertrand

    But in MPLS isn’t that just the general reality for the most part?

  • Lauren Bertrand

    I’m just relieved that this article found the chance to use the word “problematic”.

  • rkoatse

    Absolutely not, and it’s why this kind of erasure is extra pernicious. Minneapolis has huge Black community, in addition to Hmong and Somali populations, not to mention a fair amount of Hispanics.

    Quoting from here:
    https://imgur.com/gallery/mc17A

    Fun Fact: Minneapolis is 63% White, 19% Black, 10% Latino, 2% First Nations, and 6% Asian. This is a big fun crowd in this picture. Surely a few people of color should be here? Statistically speaking at least…

  • rkoatse

    Sure, all people do have a color. It just so happens all of the people in this display are white, which blots out two out of five Minnesotans whom are of a color other than white. Surely you can see the problem here unless it doesn’t affect you.

    MPLS park board docs and other local minutes use the term. People might not like it, but if its restricted to Canada, looks like it’s taking a fashion elsewhere. MPLS is a 6h drive to the border, so..

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