Construction for a seven-story apartment and retail building will commence in Downtown Los Angeles this January. The location of the building is bound by Olive Street, Grand Avenue, Pico Boulevard and 12th Street. The complex will have 640 apartment units above restaurants and shops, and will cost $245 million to build. There are to be 740 parking spaces for bicycles and 595 for cars in the site, as well as an acre of open space, two fitness centers and two swimming pools. High-rises are also in the future for downtown in residential blocks to the east of the Staples Center. Land acquired in this area is set for the development of a $750-million residential complex. Apartment units would start at $2,200 per month. In addition to this complex, Mack Urban, a real estate investment and development company, aims to establish approximately 1,500 apartments. One of the challenges in marketing these units is developing the area in which they are located into one with character, according to architect David Martin of AC Martin Partners.
A study examining the feasibility of extending the trolley at The Grove has begun. Los Angeles billionaire developer Rick Caruso is working with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see if it would be viable to use the trolley to transport people through the Fairfax area. He would also like it to take passengers to the Beverly Center via Third Street and other destinations along the way. Caruso Affiliated has suggested a connection between the proposed Metro Purple Line station near LACMA and The Grove. The study is anticipated to last between six to eight weeks. Some residents raised concerns that expanding the trolley’s route and laying out new tracks could increase traffic in the already-congested area.
The $1.9 billion renovations at the Los Angeles International Airport Tom Bradley International Terminal included a new automated system that allows lasers and lights to help park planes in place of glow sticks held by ramp agents. However, the upgrade failed to incorporate amenities widely sought by regular fliers, particularly improved Wi-Fi. Additions to the terminal include more high-end vendors and LED screens. Recent letters to the Los Angeles Times reveal disappointment with these new screens. Elke Heitmeyer of Sherman Oaks wrote that travelers “do not need to be bombarded by entertainment they didn’t choose” and simply wish to converse among companions, read, or utilize their electronics. Juan Matute from Claremont wrote that it is a shame that LAX does not seem to meet expectations.
The Transit Coalition is in dire straits. Despite various initiatives to advocate for public transportation improvements (including those from the CSUN Transportation Tiger Team), we need critical funds to continue preparing and distributing our weekly and monthly newsletters. Our October edition of Moving Southern California is ready to print, but without funding we are unable to do so. Many of our readers enjoy and depend on these news sources to learn about transportation policy that affects Southern Californians in real and tangible ways.
As a result, your help is needed to achieve our fundraising campaign goal of $5,000, which will go towards preserving this eNewsletter and resuming printing of our monthly newsletter. If we do not reach our fundraising goal by Friday, November 1, we will have no choice but to suspend publication of both newsletters. Please help us reach our goal by making a donation. Your contributions are greatly appreciated!
Efforts by the Tiger Team to improve mass transit include enhancing transfer connections between Metro Bus and Metrolink, connecting Sylmar and Northridge with Metro Rapid service, improving Orange Line service, and advancing other potential projects. Meanwhile, The Transit Coalition continues to bring renowned transportation experts and officials to speak at dinner meetings and inform attendees on projects and developments. The Transit Coalition has also succeeded in advocating expansion of Metrolink weekend service, one of the critical tenets of our Metrolink MAX campaign. These and other Transit Coalition initiatives would also be in jeopardy without your continued support. Please don’t hesitate to make a contribution so that our work continues undisturbed. Thank you for your continued support.
In other news, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed new members to the city Planning Commission, which included former Metro Boardmember Richard Katz. Also, Governing magazine takes a look at LA’s interconnected traffic signal system, which can be operated in its entirety from a single remote location. Finally, AAA predicts that gasoline prices could drop by as much as 30 cents this December now that the busy summer driving season has ended.
In development news, the Los Angeles Times editorialized the need for developers to map out potential fault lines before going forward with their projects, precisely to avoid the situation in Century City mentioned earlier this week. Meanwhile, LA city and county officials asked Grand Avenue developer Related to go back to the drawing board and devise an alternative to Related’s current, underwhelming proposal for a property across the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Also, Governor Brown signed into law a major piece of CEQA reform that grants exemptions to developments within transit-priority areas and modernizes certain measurements regarding automobile traffic impacts.
Viewpoints regarding bicycles were made known this past week on various media fronts. For starters, Eagle Rock finally received a much-fought-for road diet on parts of Colorado Boulevard that included new bike lanes. Even this improvement, however, required groups with different opinions to come together and develop a coherent vision for the boulevard. Despite the challenges, the Los Angeles Times editorial board praised these and other efforts to make streets safer for both bicyclists and motorists. On the opposite end of the spectrum, columnist David Medzerian exalted the efforts of Long Beach to improve bike infrastructure but took exception to bicyclists who take these improvements for granted and, in any case, continue to engage in illegal and dangerous behavior. One other emerging problem is how bicyclists interact with hikers who must often share the same trails through mountainous terrain.
Don’t forget that CicLAvia is this weekend, on Sunday, October 6 in Downtown L.A. Bring your family and your bikes (or whatever you choose to transport yourself) and enjoy cruising down LA streets that are closed to automobiles. Click here for more information.
Efforts to introduce rail service in other parts of California continue. Mayors of Coachella Valley cities are joining forces to call for the creation of a fund to establish new passenger rail service to the region. Officials see the future service as a way to supplement the thrice-weekly Amtrak Sunset Limited that comes at inconvenient hours. Up north, Marin County officials voted to fund an extension of future SMART commuter rail service.
The Press Enterprise has reported a questionable figure regarding the costs to upgrade a railroad crossing in the Box Springs area located between Moreno Valley and the UC-Riverside area. County officials plan to simply close off this crossing which has caused concerns from residents. Officials cite safety issues and the high cost to upgrade the crossing to meet safety standards. According the newspaper, Riverside County officials estimate the cost to upgrade this Perris Valley Line rail crossing in Box Springs to be anywhere from $3-4 million. In contrast, the State of Indiana estimates that upgrading a railroad crossing with automatic warning devices and gates is about $250,000. Ohio estimates $200,000 per upgrade. Even if the streets in the Box Springs area required minor upgrades and widening, the reported cost of $3-4 million is more than 10 times the cost of a single family home, which requires far more construction labor. We’ll take a closer look at the Box Springs railroad crossing drama before making any judgement, but the inflated cost to upgrade a single grade crossing to improve its safety is absolutely questionable to say the least.