Monday, June 25, 2012

Roundtable Discussion on AB 904 = Tuesday, June 26 (4pm)

FYI, comments from West LA community leader Barbara Brodie.  -WrW

From: Barbara Broide 

Subject: RE: Roundtable Discussion on AB 904 = Tuesday, June 26 (4pm)

Date: June 25, 2012 12:36:34 PM PDT

To: Will Wright 


I haven't replied to your invitation because I did not know whether or not I would be in LA on Tuesday afternoon.  As it happens, I will be leaving around 10:30 am and won't be back until Wednesday morning. 

That said, while I do not know the specific points of views of all those listed who have been invited to speak, it does strike me that the "other" point of view, the point of view of those that are not quite ready to throw open the codes and allow reduced parking across the city based upon proximity to a bus line, transit line, etc. knowing that our transit system is still in its infancy, knowing that even IF people commute by rail they STILL have a car (or even two) in the family, etc. 

Reducing parking within 1/4 mile of a rail station may be acceptable, but surely a blanket reduction for the entire City is not viable. Even within a 1/4 mile, residents and customers who cannot park on-site will be competing for street parking with commuters using the rail line. If commuters use up parking early in the morning, customers won't have parking. Or if residents use up street parking, commuters won't have parking and will be discouraged from using rail service.  (Keep in mind that little to no parking is being built along many transit line stations.)

The pattern of development throughout the metro area is arterial streets lined with commercial and high-density residential with lower density residential within the neighborhoods. (True there is single-family residential along some arteries, but that is not the general pattern.) If the developments along the arteries have parking deficiencies, the parking spills into the neighborhoods causing problems. For example, the formerly hip area of Melrose. People do not choose shopping or medical or business or residential locations based on the parking supplies. They make their choices and then adjust to the parking availability by finding other parking locations.

Lisa Sarkin of the Studio City NC recently mentioned to me that she read a very good article documenting a San Francisco study that showed that even in SF, with a mature and far-reaching multi-modal transit system, that only 22% of the residents in the transit oriented project actually USED the transit for their daily commutes. 

In LA, where is the data that actually shows the traffic counts in and out of the properties that have already been built as TOD?  What about the surveys to see what kinds of car ownership exists in some of the new buildings?  What has happened in North Hollywood where the large transit oriented development near the station has gone belly up (bankrupt)? 

THe whole notion of what is REAL TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT needs to be raised and was well articulated in the debates in Santa Monica over the Heinz project....  but in LA we haven't really had that discussion.  Instead, it is developers who seek the benefits of TOD's that seem to be defining where and when they are built.  And, of course, the City's one size fits all mentality without looking at infrastructure, existing density, traffic patterns, etc. just makes matters worse.  It would seem to me that we would want to use these planning tools and designations to stimulate development where most needed as opposed to where the most money can be made by a developer. 

In the current economy we tend to have planning guided not by planning principles, but by those developers and labor unions seeking jobs.  Anything to "stimulate" building almost anywhere gets the blessings of the powers that be.  The notion of providing "affordable housing" (even if a project removes 12 affordable units and replaces them with only 4) also drives the debate without critical analysis as to how to get the most bang from the buck and actually provide MORE affordable housing than is /has been demolished.   And in recent hearing testimony it has been stated time and time again that even low income (affordable housing) occupants own cars.... even if public transit is used during the work week.

I wonder who is keeping track of the parking inventory in downtown as it relates to current residents in new residential developments, pending numbers of units and those planned.....and all related/associated uses....

It is clear that LA is now embarking upon a culture shift away from the auto as the primary transportation mode.  However, as in all culture shifts, these things are best done in an evolutionary manner, as opposed to a revolutionary one....  We are not yet Seattle, Portland or other west coast cities that have long been cultivating a more urban/mixed use design.  And, complicating matters is the sheer SIZE and SPRAWL of LA County.  (I had to take a deep breath upon hearing one of the recent MObility 21 speakers (from Australia?) as he talked about the City from the Baldwin Hills to the HOllywood Hills and how the subway and transit are now becoming part of the urban fabric.  He said nothing of what lies BEYOND the HOllywood Hills and the fact that so many people must commute long distances to work and that our transit system does not meeting their needs and realistically will not meet their needs for many, many years to come.    LA is also not NY or Chicago with their wonderful rail networks connecting the suburbs/buroughs with the central city.  Yes, we need to encourage ridership; we need to do everything we can to make transit use more accessible (which may mean that we do NOT want to build mega projects directly adjacent to key transit stations).  Our HOA just submitted comments on a proposed Casden project at the Sepulveda stop of the EXPO line that wishes to locate a large TARGET store there along with a supermarket, retailing and over 540 apartment units.  Given all that everyone knows about the congestion in the area, the location adjacent to the 405, etc. it seems key to the success of the line that people who cannot get there via transit (hill dwellers, folks to the north where transit does not go), should be able to drive and park there.  However, if the city allows development that will completely choke the area, that will not be possible and the investment made in transit will not realize its full potential. 

At any rate, I need not go over some of the points I would have made had I been able to attend the meeting... However, I do believe it is very important that someone on your panel bring up these types of issues.  Have you been able to find others who can address these thoughts?  If not, let me know and I will send out an email to some community types who could be asked if they would consider participating.

Thanks for the invite!  Sorry I can't be there,

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