Once-predominant African-American communities across LA have become Latino-majority and eventually disappeared. However, Leimert Park remains the sole hold-out as the village retains its culture, but is fully aware of the societal changes that may invoke future change. The community successfully fought to have a stop for the future Crenshaw/LAX light rail line added. Even though residents are concerned that the community is in a decline due to retail options elsewhere, the same residents have largely opposed developments that might bring new businesses. Those advocating for a revival believe that any effort should also foster the local arts community as well as local businesses.
Negotiations over the future of Ontario Airport have reached an impasse, setting in motion a renewed court battle that could wrest control from Los Angeles World Airports to the City of Ontario. This was in fact the second attempt at settling the issue out of court, since the lawsuit, filed last June, is ongoing. Ontario believes LAWA has not done its best to stem the decrease in passenger levels, while LAWA contends that changes in the airline industry favoring large hub airports and the recession are to blame. During the negotiations, Ontario pledged that it would assume all debts related to the airport and pay any costs for a transfer of ownership.
Even as the City of Los Angeles advances its bike plan, no one is lost on the reality that biking in LA remains a harrowing ordeal. Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez concluded as much when he joined city bike coordinator Michelle Mowery on a ride that explored some of the new facilities on Glendale Boulevard and 2nd Street (the latter featuring a buffered bike lane in a tunnel) near Downtown LA. Despite new bike lanes running along existing city streets, some of these, including the buffered lane in the aforementioned tunnel, required taking a lane away from car traffic, leading to automobile congestion and frayed nerves. Moreover, drivers perceive that the bike lanes are hardly used for the amount of street space they take. Nevertheless, Mowery states that the city hopes that 5% of all commuters will use bikes even as elements of the bike plan come online in the coming years.
Metro is on a roll as the agency schedules public meetings covering a variety of topics. One of the first public hearings on proposed service changes was recently held in Van Nuys, which had a surprisingly good turnout. Riders were generally supportive of the new Line 588X, a proposed express service between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside, despite skipping service to Sherman Oaks. Meetings for other service areas (except South Bay, where no service changes are proposed) are listed in Upcoming Events.
Additionally, Metro is hosting meetings on its arts program, where participants can learn how to form part of the program. A hearing on the proposed fare restructuring will be held on Saturday, March 29. Finally, a pair of meetings updating community members on the Purple Line Extension will be held on Thursday, February 13. Information on these is also listed in Upcoming Events.
Meanwhile, columnist Steve Lopez ponders why Los Angeles does not repair its sidewalksdespite repeated legal actions in favor of injured pedestrians and disabled persons. In response to a previous Los Angeles Times editorial on Pasadena contemplating a road diet on Colorado Boulevard, readers ask Pasadena officials to think twice before going forward. Opponents point towards Santa Monica, where similar policies were placed into action at the expense of automobile travel. At the other end of the country, New York is cracking down on jaywalking in response to a string of pedestrian deaths.
When Los Angeles officials last fall released its proposals for a reconfiguration of the Hyperion Street Bridge as part of a seismic retrofit, bike and pedestrian advocates assailed the plans as being too car-centric, with no allowances for alternative modes of transport. After a sudden and passionate outcry from opponents and further brainstorming, LADOT released new designs that would eliminate a car lane and provide bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge instead of just one side at present.
While most development in Hollywood has stayed close to Hollywood Boulevard and the three Red Line stations that serve the business district, one developer is taking his act further away with a proposed mixed-use development on Vine Street. The block where the project would occur was bought from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences when the latter opted to scrap plans to build a museum at the block. (AMPAS itself opted to use the former May Company Building on Wilshire and Fairfax, which is set to receive a Purple Line stop in the future, as the site of their museum.) The developer hopes that the project will provide space not only for more residents but for the new entertainment-related business sprouting within Hollywood.
Meanwhile, lawmakers opposed to the project are crafting several bills that would bring the issue again to voters or at least hamper the project at the legislative level. One new initiative would prevent previously voter-approved bond money to be spent on HSR while Hyperloop technology is developed and would allow for the CPUC to acquire land for a demonstration. (Note that such initiatives entail signature-gathering and verification at a cost of millions.) While this may sound innovative, Kerry Cavanaugh of the LA Times warns that steel-on-steel rail technology is proven, while Hyperloop is not, and that Hyperloop may very well turn out to be unfeasible at the expense of needed intercity transportation. Colin Leach of NARP adds that, as envisioned, Hyperloop would not serve intermediate cities and in the end would lack the compatibility with conventional rail services that HSR systems worldwide enjoy.
Even as more cities are warming towards higher-density development and bike- and pedestrian-friendly innovations, one Santa Monica resident expressed his disdain at how his community is adopting these ideas at the expense of car travel. Contributor Bruce Feldman argues that, even as more residential development comes in, rental prices are actually trending upwards. Worse yet, new residents also tend to drive, meaning more cars on streets even as the city removes lanes in favor of alternate modes, according to Feldman. These changes force residents on the fringes of town who must drive and reap the consequence of longer travel times, Feldman argues. Los Angeles Times readers from Santa Monica and other similar neighborhoods generally agreed with Feldman’s assessment, albeit with a few caveats.
CicLAvia organizers recently announced the next 3 dates of the popular event, with the next one coming Sunday, April 6. However, CicLAvia leaders also hinted at what may be in store for 2015 and beyond, starting with a possible event outside the central city for the first time. CicLAvia itself aims to establish as many as 9 events annually from 2017 onward. Moreover, groups unaffiliated with CicLAvia are proposing their own events at disparate locations within Los Angeles County. Funds provided by Metro would make CicLAvia and similar events a more regular occurrence in future years. Architectural pundit Chris Hawthorne argues that holding more of these events will prove crucial inchanging people’s attitudes towards bicycling, mass transit and walking in a city otherwise designed for the automobile.