Is the City Planning Politburo Performing Outreach or Just Outrage?

ALPERN ON PLANNING - Officially, the City Department of Planning is conducting a Transit Neighborhood Plans Project to best determine the right land use for the neighborhoods surrounding the five West LA-adjacent Expo Line stations (which includes the Venice/Robertson station located at the Culver City border).

 Certainly, walkable neighborhoods, transit-oriented development and affordable housing opportunities abound as the Westside Expo Line becomes reality.  Unofficially and unfortunately, however, the "outreach" meetings are potentially as dangerous to the Westside as they otherwise should be helpful to it. 

The Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan has an Environmental Scoping Meeting on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 6 p.m. at the IMAN Cultural Center (3376 Motor Ave., parking is available onsite or on Motor Ave.).  A brief presentation about the Project and the EIR process will be given at 6:15 p.m. 

I strongly recommend that all transit advocates and neighborhood leaders (particularly those of us who fought for the Expo Line) attend this meeting, and provide the input for which L.A. City Planning needs.  Yet I also strongly recommend that the following questions be pointedly asked of Planning, which is increasingly behaving more like a Politburo than a proper branch of the L.A. civil service: 

1) Is this true "outreach," or an official way of stating on the EIR for this Project that "outreach" was performed but, in actuality, was a session where transit-oriented development was asked for but overdevelopment was strongly cautioned against...and which is ignored in the EIR? 

2) After being asked by Planning at the last outreach meeting held at the Henry Medina Parking Enforcement Building a few months ago to provide input as if there were no Casden Project next to the Exposition/Sepulveda Expo Line station being planned, and after informing Planning overwhelmingly that the Casden Project was entirely opposed by those who attended, yet after learning that Planning and the Casden developers met in private on December 27th to virtually rubber stamp the Casden Project, is the IMAN meeting just "window dressing" to show there was a token opportunity for community input (regardless of what the input was)? 

3) After years of meeting with (and apparently being ignored by) City Planning in the hopes of creating an updated West LA Community Plan, why is the public now demanded to have all public input on the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan Draft EIR by April 15th?  Why was the LA Community Plan not as fast-tracked as is the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan...or is this corridor being spot-zoned to the suffering of the rest of the region, and to the suffering of all those Westsiders who fought so hard for the Expo Line? 

4) Why did LA City Planning officials ignore Metro's requests for planning almost a decade ago (unlike Culver City and Santa Monica, which have been working with planners, developers and residents for over a decade...and are still working with them to find the right compromises for Expo Line station-adjacent development), yet are now rushing through this project over the protests of all the neighborhood groups, Sierra Club and pro-transit groups who otherwise expected environmentally-appropriate and sustainable development in the City of Los Angeles? 

5) Why is the City of LA Planning "going it alone" without working with the LADOT and Metro on this Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan, and does it allow for the future north-south transit lines on the 405 and Crenshaw Line corridors? 

6) Will the Martin Cadillac redevelopment project next to the Bundy/Olympic Expo Line station (replacing a 100,000 sq. ft. project) into a 807,000 sq. ft. residential and commercial project, be agreed to behind closed doors, regardless of what the community (even transit advocates) want, so long as the developer and the proper political connections have been made as we saw with the Casden project?  There is a Public Scoping Meeting for this project scheduled for April 3 at the Olympic Collection at 11301 Olympic Blvd. #204 from 6-8:00 pm. 

7) Is there any room left in LA for industrial zoning (where jobs and commercial development are located), now that the Exposition/Sepulveda and Bundy/Olympic projects are now being rezoned away from industrial to commercial/residential, and is the previous call from Mayor Villaraigosa, Councilmember Koretz and Councilmember-Elect Bonin to create a Silicon Beach technology corridor along the Expo Line to be dropped in favor of creating some quick land and money grabs for residential developers? 

8) Is there any hope for Metro, the LADOT and the City of L.A. Planning to work together to create a true West LA Community Plan Update that includes the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan, and which includes a Westside Regional Transportation/Transit Center at Exposition/Sepulveda, where the future-but-budgeted Expo Line and north-south 405/Sepulveda Corridor transit line will connect with the 405 and 10 freeways, and with Pico and Sepulveda Blvds.?   

9) Are there truly bicycle and pedestrian and bus amenities planned for all transit-adjacent developments in order for them to be truly transit-oriented, and not just transit-adjacent, and is the term "transit-oriented" just a buzzword shield to accommodate and facilitate overdevelopment? 

10) Finally, is the rushed and nebulously-detailed method that LA Planning doing for the Expo Corridor CEQA-compliant, and will it pass legal muster, or is it just a lawsuit waiting to happen, one which will be at risk of a harsh reversal such as that we saw with the wretched decision of the L.A. City Council with the electronic/digital billboard industry?  Is this a process that L.A. City Attorneys Carmen Trutanich and Mike Feuer will want to weigh in on, as the once-venerable mass transit effort devolves into a money grab by big developers? 

11) Lastly, will this effort be one that kills off the mass transit movement in much of L.A. County, and are mass transit proponents now to find relief that Measure J failed last November?

The LA City Planning Politburo has recently shown a penchant for closed-door decision making and stiff-arming law-abiding residents, and appear willing to ignore Neighborhood Councils and City Councilmembers alike.  After years of trying very hard to work with this Planning Politburo, it's very hard for Neighborhood Councils to restore faith in civil servants who are supposed to be true and faithful to the needs of the taxpaying voters of Los Angeles, but are now instruments for special interests and their political allies who have proven more than willing to break the law. 

I urge all of you who believe in better transportation and planning for ourselves and for our children to attend the meeting at the IMAN cultural center on April 10, 2013, and I urge City Planning, from Michael LoGrande on down, to stop playing the role of spoiler to all who have fought so hard to improve the mobility, environment, and quality of life for current and future Angelenos.

 

(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us.   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) 

-cw

 

CityWatch

Vol 11 Issue 25

Pub: Mar 26, 2013