Sherman Oaks Nimbys Bash Sepulveda Rail Plans, Push Unrealistic Freeway Monorail

SOHA No elevated trains flier - via SOHA website
SOHA No elevated trains flier - via SOHA website

The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association is disparaging Metro’s planned Sepulveda Transit proejct. SOHA’s website graphics urge “no elevated trains above Sepulveda [Boulevard.]” SOHA is pushing an unrealistic freeway monorail alternative.

Metro is currently hosting a series of community input meetings (tonight and Saturday – details at bottom of post) on the planned Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project. Voters approved nearly $6 billion for the planned Valley-Westside line, though the latest cost estimates have risen to upwards of $10 billion. While the escalating costs are a bad sign, a regionally-significant high-ridership project such as this will likely be able to make up the shortfall with some combination of federal and state monies, and perhaps some internal cost-cutting measures.

Four possible concept alignments for Sepulveda Transit
Four possible concept alignments for Sepulveda Transit

Metro is currently considering four alternatives. Three are heavy rail; one is monorail. While much of the project is anticipated to run in tunnels underground (hence the relatively high cost estimates), two concepts (HRT 3 and MRT 1) include aerial and at-grade portions – in order to reduce costs.

The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association asserts that elevated transit “will RUIN” Valley neighborhoods.

Like other Nimbys, the SOHA’s criticisms of the project are inconsistent. They slam the project coming and going. Trains are both too expensive – they “COST WAY OVER BUDGET” – and the less-expensive aerial alternatives are straight up “UNACCEPTABLE” and (according to a SOHA presentation) will “destroy” the community’s “light, air, and privacy.” Aerial rail is somehow “NOISY” though it could well be less noisy than car traffic on the street below and the freeway nearby.

SOHA’s presentation shows some before/after renderings of the apparently treasured Sherman Oaks landscapes that SOHA anticipates elevated rail will intrude upon.

“Intrusive” aerial rail will mar the Sherman Oaks community’s view of these on-/off-ramps for the 405 Freeway at Greenleaf Street. Images via SOHA

Other SOHA presentation renderings show a misleadingly giant multi-story sized train.

Another Sherman Oaks scenic vista that would be destroyed by aerial rail. Image via SOHA
Another Sherman Oaks vista that would be ruined by aerial rail. Note the giant train car on the right misleadingly appears to be double- or triple-decker sized – more than double the height of the van and SUV below it. Images via SOHA

What does SOHA want? They are pushing a “futuristic look” monorail that would run in the middle of the 405 Freeway.

SOHA's 405 Freeway monorail concept. Image via SOHA
SOHA’s 405 Freeway monorail concept. Image via SOHA

Folks who actually currently ride L.A. transit know that Metro’s existing freeway stations are hellishly loud for riders. In addition, some existing Metro freeway rail has been plagued by vehicles crashing into rail infrastructure. Freeway stations also subject riders to a heavy dose of pollution. Freeway-adjacent areas are inhospitable and dangerous for walking – and marginal for transit-oriented development. Siting rail in the middle of freeways, and improving freeway stations, has been very difficult due to having to work with Caltrans.

SOHA’s solution to mid-freeway stations is to add multiple doglegs – at least at Sherman Way, the Orange Line, Ventura Boulevard, UCLA, and the Expo Line. The UCLA dogleg even includes a people mover.

Proposed monorail access to UCLA via aerial dog-leg and people mover. Image via SOHA
Proposed monorail access to UCLA via aerial dogleg and people mover. Image via SOHA

All of these doglegs appear to include hairpin turns that would dramatically slow monorail speeds, increasing travel time and decreasing utility and ridership. The doglegs and people movers would all run on expensive aerial structures – the kind that SOHA calls “intrusive” and says would “ruin” communities.

If that is not enough, SOHA incorrectly asserts that a mid-freeway monorail (plus its doglegs and people-mover) would have “almost zero impacts… during construction” though, more likely, it would result in major construction closures, including on the 405 Freeway.

Lastly, SOHA is pushing for the monorail to be built by BYD Skyway – part of the scandal-plagued consistently under-delivering electric bus manufacturer BYD.

The SOHA monorail concept is so sadly misguided that it probably is not worth the attention that Streetsblog L.A. has devoted to debunking it.

If readers want to learn more about, and give input on, the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project (including perhaps showing support for sane alternatives) please plan to attend this week’s meetings:

  • Tuesday 7/30 – Tonight 6-8 p.m. at St. Paul the Apostle Church at 10750 Ohio Avenue in Westwood. Presentation at 6:30 p.m. (Facebook event)
  • Saturday 8/3 – 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center at 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard in Van Nuys. Bilingual meeting with English presentation at 10:30 a.m. and  Spanish presentation at 11:45 a.m. (Facebook events: SpanishEnglish)

Additional project and meeting details at Metro’s The Source.

  • Matt

    Wait until they learn there will be multiple lane closures on both sides of the 405 to build that monorail in the middle of the freeway. And those doglegs off the freeway – anyone should understand that isn’t realistic. Oh, and a people mover to UCLA. That is part of their cost too? Lol.

  • Joe Linton

    What could go wrong?!?

  • T S

    This biased article is slanderous towards Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association and especially BYD Skyway. They’ve sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook!

  • Putting this all underground versus aerial will cost a ton. How much better bus service could we buy with that cost difference?

  • Sorry Mom, the mob has spoken.

  • ItsBlackjack115
  • Joe Linton

    I do think we need to invest more in bus service throughout L.A. County… but for this corridor, more buses would likely mean more buses stuck in traffic.

  • I’m just thinking what’s the real value of a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass versus an elevated track? They’re both grade separated and fast. We need better bus service all over the place. The nearest bus to me that goes north-south runs at best once per 45 minutes or so and doesn’t run on Sundays.

  • Roger R.

    The two shots of Ventura at Sepulveda made me laugh. Oh, first picture is of an ugly asphalt hellscape. Second one is an ugly asphalt hellscape that I can escape by train. I’ll take #2.

  • Michael Escobar

    I remember when they built the elevated carpool lane above the 110. That definitely had heavy impact on the freeway. For years.

  • Joe Linton

    There’s an awful lot of wretched material to go on in that whole sad presentation.

  • Michael Escobar

    In Oakland, the new airport-BART elevated connector is very tasteful and adds appeal to an otherwise ordinary industrial/commercial neighborhood. Elevated BART tracks in Oakland, Fremont, and El Cerrito are nowhere near as noisy as any elevated freeway because the trains pass through quickly, it’s not the continuous roar of a freeway. Modern tracks can be even quieter than the 1960s-vintage BART because the trackbeds are insulated with rubber footings that dampen vibrations. As other commenters have noted, an elevated track might actually constitute an improvement to the particular views that SOHA is alleging would be “marred”. Bottom line, reducing carbon emissions and vehicle congestion would improve quality of life and property values for the whole city, especially the area nearest the rail line.


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