NoHo-Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit Project Faces Misleading Eagle Rock NIMBYs

Metro is refining plans for Bus Rapid Transit between Pasadena and North Hollywood - image via Metro report
Metro is refining plans for Bus Rapid Transit between Pasadena and North Hollywood - image via Metro report

Metro is planning a new Bus Rapid Transit line from North Hollywood to Pasadena. The project is currently in early design stages, with a series of community input hearings underway this week. Already xenophobic privileged NIMBYs are attacking the project, spreading lies, and belittling transit supporters. The L.A. City neighborhood of Eagle Rock is ground zero for the vitriolic anti-bus campaign.

Metro’s North Hollywood to Pasadena Transit Corridor project has $267 million in funding, all from Measure M, which specifies a 2020 groundbreaking and a 2022-2024 opening. The BRT line is planned to extend along streets in the cities of Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, and Los Angeles.

NoHo-Pasadena BRT preferred street-running alternative
NoHo-Pasadena BRT preferred street-running alternative

Metro has not yet determined what features will be included in the project. Per Metro BRT analysis, features being considered include:

  • peak period bus-only lanes for 2-9 miles
  • transit signal priority
  • selective street repaving and re-striping
  • signage
  • enhanced stations and streetscape improvements
  • all‐door boarding
  • freeway shoulder-running bus lanes and/or queue jump lanes on freeway on-/off-ramps

Metro is currently in the middle of a 45-day Environmental Impact Report (EIR) scoping period, during which the agency is actively seeking public comments – due by July 31. Metro is hosting five public input meetings (upcoming schedule at bottom of post). Earlier this week, Metro held input meetings in North Hollywood and Pasadena.

On Tuesday in North Hollywood, public comment was predominantly in favor of BRT. Supporters spoke of high-quality transit, dedicated lanes, opportunities for housing, and climate goals. A minority of naysayers expressed concerns that BRT would bring “the wrong people” and “litter” to Valley communities, including to the “sweet little village” of Toluca Lake.

Metro’s second input meeting took place last night in Pasadena. The meeting was covered on Twitter and at CBS. Public comment was again a majority in favor of BRT. Proponents stressed transit would improve commutes, while opponents asserted that it would “disrupt the character” of neighborhoods, especially in Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock has become ground zero for a disruptive NIMBY backlash against the planned BRT.

Some of the backlash was in evidence last month, when BRT opponents shouted down Metro staff attempting to present BRT information at an Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council committee meeting.

A handful of anonymous “local residents and business owners” recently launched an Eagle Rock 411 website/campaign, claiming that the BRT project is “throwing Colorado Boulevard under the bus” and will “devastate… local businesses and severely increase traffic in [sic] residential side streets” as well as trigger upzoning, putting “high-density housing… six stories tall along Colorado Boulevard on the fast track.” These BRT opponents assert that the project will remove “street parking, car lanes, grassy medians,” though Metro is still studying the project and has not yet determined whether any of these possibilities will be included in the final design.

Eagle Rock 411 spouts Orwellian language while claiming to promote a “#betterBRT.” Instead of opposing BRT that serves central Eagle Rock, they rally to “Support Mass Public Transit on the 134 Freeway.” (Metro studied and ruled out that alignment, citing lower ridership and poor reliability on the congested freeway.)

ER411 also urges, “Keep our town moving,” echoing Westside traffic safety foes Keep L.A. Moving and its many copycat spawn (of which ER411 may be one). Keep L.A. Moving’s John Russo commented on ER411’s petition and ER411’s website resembles other Keep Moving cookie-cutter websites.

The ER411 website implies that that Colorado Boulevard BRT will not serve low-income/disadvantaged communities.

Screenshot from ER411 FAQ
Screenshot from ER411 FAQ

The website erroneously suggests that the income of transit riders would be reflected in home prices for the areas the transit goes through. This is wrong anywhere, but it is especially misleading in a community in which nearly half are renters (49.4 percent of households in the main Eagle Rock zip code 90041 are renters). And in cases like the number 2 bus line that carries students and service workers along Sunset Boulevard through Beverly Hills, bus service can be vital to the functioning of a community, even if its riders are non-residents. The average Metro bus rider makes less than $20,000 annually.

Realtor and Eagle Rock 411 spokesperson Cherryl Weaver showed her xenophobia by asserting, in a Facebook post, that BRT is an option for “3rd world countries.”

WeaverBRTscreenprint
Screenshot via Facebook

Another Eagle Rock businessperson opposing Colorado Boulevard BRT is Michael Nogueira, president of the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce. According to a post by the Boulevard Sentinel (a news publication that has shown bias against BRT), Nogueira was responsible for hanging an anti-BRT “Let’s Keep Our Town Moving” banner across Colorado Boulevard earlier this week.

Boulevard Sentinel Facebook post screenshot
Boulevard Sentinel Facebook post screenshot
Eagle Rock anti-BRT banner - with ER Chamber of Commerce logo
Eagle Rock anti-BRT banner – with ER Chamber of Commerce logo in lower left. Screenshot from ER411 website.

The banner was removed the same day, reportedly at the direction of staff of L.A. City Councilmember José Huizar. Streetsblog contacted Huizar’s office for confirmation of the event and clarification of city policy on allowing private groups to post political messages in the public right-of-way. Staff responded with a brief broad statement that Huizar “looks forward to hearing [community input on the BRT project] before taking an official position.”

One primary focus of Eagle Rock 411 is pressure on L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who is also a Metro boardmember. At last month’s Metro board meeting, during an item unrelated to BRT, Solis stated that she has been hearing BRT concerns from her constituents in Eagle Rock. She requested Metro staff schedule two additional outreach meetings for the project. Streetsblog contacted Solis’ office for a statement on the project, but did not receive one at press time. Though Solis has been supportive of the mobility needs of low-income bus riders, it appears that BRT opponents are pressing her not to support this project.

Given the one-sided media coverage at CBS and the Boulevard Sentinel, it may appear that the entire Eagle Rock community is opposing BRT.

This is not the case.

BRT supporters have been organizing under the banner of “BRT for Equity.”

Eagle Rock residents are campaigning for effective BRT. Image via Walk Eagle Rock Twitter
Eagle Rock residents are campaigning for effective BRT. Image via Walk Eagle Rock Twitter

Get involved in those efforts by emailing ‘equitableBRT(at)gmail.com’ and following @hippierunner and @walkeaglerock on Twitter. BRT for Equity created a pro-BRT petition in favor of “a More Sustainable Colorado Boulevard for Eagle Rock.” In addition to the petition, BRT supporters can see this earlier SBLA post for ways to weigh in.

Metro is hosting three more meetings on the NoHo-Pasadena BRT project (and most likely will hold additional meetings in response to Solis’ request). Upcoming meetings are scheduled for:

  • Eagle Rock: Saturday 7/13, 1-3 p.m. at Eagle Rock Plaza, 2700 Colorado Boulevard, Suite 236
  • Burbank: Monday 7/15, 6-8 p.m. at Buena Vista Branch Library, 300 N. Buena Vista Street
  • Glendale: Wednesday 7/17, 5:30–7:30 p.m. at Glendale Downtown Central Library, 222 E. Harvard Street

Sparks are likely to fly at this Saturday’s meeting in Eagle Rock. Plan to arrive early.

  • Gerhard W. Mayer

    Good article Joe – thx for focusing on this.

  • les_2

    This isn’t really a BRT. It’s more like one of Seattle’s Rapid Ride lines then a BRT. BRT only uses dedicated lanes, this line doesn’t have much of this. It says 2-9 miles, but by the time all is said and done the line will be lucky to have the low end of 2 miles.

  • cygp2p

    In the US, the term BRT doesn’t imply only dedicated lanes… although it is much better if it does.

  • Michael Escobar

    Man, I could have used this when I was living in Burbank and going to PCC. Or when I was living in Eagle Rock (Colorado & Eagle Rock) and working in Glendale (Brand Blvd near the 210). Seriously, commuting from Burbank to PCC was at least 90 minutes each way at rush hour, and when I had evening classes that ended at 9pm I was hosed.

  • Richard

    By those definitions technically LA’s Rapid buses are BRT. They are neither BRT nor are they rapid.

    It isn’t worth spending 300 million dollars if they aren’t going to have dedicated lanes.

  • cygp2p

    Feel free to start knocking on doors in Eagle Rock.

  • Slinge Master

    Ironic that you label people who oppose this Metro project “xenophobic privileged NIMBYs” and then suggest they are “belittling transit supporters.” Not sure if this is supposed to be an opinion piece or journalistic reporting, but either way, it would probably be more constructive to listen to the concerns of the many residents and business owners who oppose this plan than simply writing them off as fighters of progress.. Eagle Rock residents have a long history of progressive activism that has included bike lanes and a road diet, greening projects for beauty and air quality, adding protected crosswalks for safety, and favoring local independent business owners over corporate chain stores. I have actively supported all of these measures and more. However, adding a dedicated bus line will necessarily impact some or all of the following: a) parking for local businesses; b) medians with mature trees that add to the beauty and character of the community; c) bike lanes or d) sidewalks. It is also likely to snarl car traffic because of necessary changes to left-turn lanes and the removal of one of the two traffic lanes, which in turn could end up adding to air pollution on streets and around local schools. The biggest issue, however, is that Metro is not providing details about how any of these issues will be addressed , and asking people on both sides of the issue to weigh in without knowing what they are signing on for — or against.

  • Lorenzo Mutia

    Eagle Rock also campaigned against a Philippine Village designation some years ago despite a signifcant Filipino community there so…

  • humdinger

    “Eagle Rock residents have a long history of progressive activism that has included bike lanes and a road diet.”

    But not the residents who are opposed to this BRT. Many of these same people* actively campaigned against bike lanes on Colorado, because, ya know, people who ride bikes don’t buy anything, and reducing Colorado from a 3 lane basically-freeway would kill the businesses along the corridor. So they have a history of cluelessness, irrationality, and being wrong.

    *See the owners of Tritch/Boulevard Sentinel.

  • Slinge Master

    “cluelessness, irrationality, and being wrong.” Nothing like civil discourse to move an issue toward an amicable conclusion! At any rate, yes some folks opposed the bike lanes, but a lot of people who strongly supported them (including me) are not in favor of this. For one thing this is inevitably going to be much more disruptive, for pedestrians, businesses and bike riders. Let me end with a question — since there is no actual plan yet for the dedicated lane, if it turns out Metro wants to remove the bike lanes, would you be okay with that? I wouldn’t — but I’m also not okay with losing the medians with 75-year-old trees or parking for local business.

  • Slinge Master

    Oh, and by the way, Pasadena is not allowing the BRT on Colorado — they have opted for the 134 option. And Glendale is on the fence so far. So this is not a case of Eagle Rock being some regressive backwater. We are a less affluent, more ethnically diverse community than either of those cities. And we are part of Los Angeles city, so Metro was planning to just muscle this project through despite the objections of many residents. And it’s a LOT of residents. At Saturday’s Metro scoping meeting, a local businessperson unrolled a scroll with 1,000 signatures. I think Superintendent Solis and the Metro board are beginning to realize they can’t just steamroll through this active and eclectic neighborhood.

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