Last updateThu, 21 May 2015 9pm

LOS ANGELES Sunday, May 24th 2015 10:16


  • WHO WE ARE-Women did it again. The annual Memorial Day tradition of placing flowers on graves of fallen soldiers was begun by women in the South after the Civil War. Who knew? Who now remembers that it was originally Decoration Day? Or that it is a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who fought for a better future. Memorial Day is a great deal…
  • 453 Days Later...

    Tom Rubin
    OFFENSIVE BUT PROTECTED SPEECH-Welcome news this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. By a vote of 11 to 1, the court overturned its injunction against the controversial video called "Innocence of Muslims" that it had ordered off YouTube back in February 2014. Here's the background. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia (photo below) was…
  • What LA Educators Should Learn From Bell Gardens High School’s Shocking Turnaround

    Jay Mathews
    VOICES FROM THE SQUARE-Bell Gardens High School in east Los Angeles County was a sorry mess when science teacher Liz Lowe arrived in 1989. It was overflowing with trailer classrooms and graffiti. More than 3,000 students crowded into school buildings surrounding a concrete quadrangle with patches of grass and some trees. Expectations were low. Not…
  • The Clean Sweep Election Finally Happened

    Bob Gelfand
    GELFAND’S WORLD- A few years ago, a group calling itself Clean Sweep argued that the voters of Los Angeles should defeat all the incumbents and replace them with fresh blood. On Tuesday, the results came close. There are two distinct lessons, one of which is quite ominous for elected officials. This election demonstrated the end of voter patience…
  • What Did Tuesday’s LAUSD Election Results Prove?

    Paul Hatfield
    PERSPECTIVE-Did the LAUSD election results signal a change for charter schools? Perhaps. Possibly. Maybe. You can make a decent case that Ref Rodriguez’s victory in District 5 points to strong support for charters. It was a battle between two well-funded candidates with diametrically opposed views on the issue. The effectiveness and fairness of…
  • (Train)ing Ourselves to Confront Modern Mass Transit

    Ken Alpern
    GETTING THERE FROM HERE-It's great to learn that Metro has an excellent new CEO with the hiring of Phillip A. Washington who comes to us from Denver. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Roger Snoble and Art Leahy, Mr. Washington has a first-rate reputation to maintain--but his first job will be to pass Measure R-2. Measure R-2 (perhaps…
  • City Controller’s Grandstanding DWP Audit is the Real Waste of Ratepayer Dollars

    Dennis Zine
    JUST THE FACTS-City Controller Ron Galperin’s Grandstanding DWP Audit results were finally released. Unfortunately, the conclusion and political spin that came afterwards from the controller was misleading. Here are the FACTS: The DWP’s Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute are administered by DWP managers and representatives of the…
  • A Place Where ‘Special Interest’ is NOT a Dirty Word

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-We need to have a new word to differentiate the villainous “Special Interest” that everyone is always complaining about and the “Special Interest” that almost all of politicians and civic and social activists have adopted as a cause. It is impossible to have passion about multiple issues. I know I have mentioned this before, but it seems…
  • Alert! America’s Small Businesses are Being Screwed by Big Business

    Robert Reich
    THE ECONOMY-Can it be that America’s small businesses are finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses? For years, small-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up behind big businesses lobbies. (Photo: small businesses in Studio City) They’ve contributed to the same Republican…


  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…

Memorial Day 2015- Freedom Isn’t Free

J. Cole raps on the Letterman show: “Be Free’

The Star Spangled Banner … like you’ve never heard it before









The Race to Erase Race from the Crenshaw/LAX Line

ALPERN AT LARGE - Approximately a year ago in a CityWatch column,  I commented on the need to “erase race from the Expo Line”, in part because one of the main reasons I became such a big supporter of the Expo Line was to help bring the Westside, Mid-City and Downtown regions together…not just with respect to transportation but with respect to de-balkanizing the City of the Angels. [link to column]

Unfortunately, that need to erase race from transportation projects now shifts to the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line.  Count me in as a big supporter of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, which has multiple components and branches that will connect the Westside, South Bay, Mid-City, LAX and even Wilshire regions in the years to come.  But count me out as someone that wants to inject racial politics (which I find wholly repugnant) into this necessary line.

Times Columnist Hector Tobar recently appeared to promote the need for South LA (in particular, the black community who resides and/or commutes to the Crenshaw Blvd. Corridor) to be as litigious as the Westside when it comes to transportation projects, (link). However, Mr. Tobar forgot to highlight or even mention the track record of Westside and other lawsuits against public works projects.

Like Mr. Tobar, I vigorously support a reasonable and realistic Crenshaw/LAX Line access to Leimert Park, but also like Mr. Tobar I suspect I’m not the only transportation advocate to question the need or the ability to spend several hundred million in extra dollars to completely grade-separate the future Crenshaw/LAX Line at Leimert Park … particularly since that money is so desired by other communities for construction and mitigation of “their” projects.

I’m certainly not blind to the seething rage that Crenshaw Corridor residents have at feeling left out of a first-rate station and underground light rail grade separation at Leimert Park.  I’ve seen that rage in Cheviot Hills, Rancho Park and other neighborhoods who opposed the Expo Line that is planned for at-grade construction on Overland Ave.  I’ve also seen it in South Pasadena, the Valley and Beverly Hills for other past and present passenger rail lines.

By and large, however, these “white communities” have lost … and lost big when they sued.  On the other hand, the Japanese-American community in Little Tokyo was able to achieve complete grade separation for the Downtown Light Rail Connector, but for the most part did so because both community leaders and transportation advocates and engineers realized (mostly without lawyers) what a mess would be created to both rail and surface street traffic without grade separation.

Meanwhile, Beverly Hills is lawyering up for what appears to be as quixotic a battle as any for a Wilshire Subway project that really, really needs to go to the heart of Century City to reach its full ridership potential.  The Subway and Downtown Connector are both projects that are highly favored by the Federal Transit Administration, and while transportation spending nationwide is going down these projects are still likely to get federal funding and/or loans.

So when the cry goes out that the lack of funding for a subway tunneling of the Leimert Park portion of the Crenshaw/LAX Line is a racial thing, it’s very hard to believe that any color but that of green (as in “money”, “moolah”, “dead Presidents”, etc.) is involved.  The lawyers of “the white Westside” who’ve fought well-planned and vetted Metro projects have all lost, and I’d rather not victimize Crenshaw Corridor and other South LA residents with wasted legal fees.

However, if we did come up with a few hundred million dollars I’d prefer to have that money go towards the planned northern subway extension of the Crenshaw Line to the Wilshire Corridor.  And just as the Westchester community is willing to put up with the visual impacts of an elevated Manchester/Aviation station over Manchester Blvd. to provide better local access (cost about $10-40 million, depending on who you talk to), I’m hoping that Leimert Park can find a compromise as well.

I can relate and respect the blood-pressure-raising, stomach-ulcer-forming, fist-through-the-wall rage that goes with being forced to deal with impositions or denials of projects that makes steam come out of your ears … but while most taxpayers and politicians will understand a $10-30 million betterment, it will be very hard to justify hundreds of millions for a project when billions of dollars are needed for other projects.

Money, not race, is why the Wilshire Subway will be built with virtually no parking, and why the Eastside will end up with fewer projects than other regions (despite Mayor Villaraigosa’s roots), and why the four outlying corners of LA County will invariably feel short-changed in Measure R sales tax revenues.

But there is a silver lining in all these clouds of disappointment and lowered expectations:  tourism and transit ridership is up, despite our current economic challenges.  One such transit-based tourism of a Northern California family was recently chronicled (link), and one can only wonder what will happen over the next 10 years when the Expo, Crenshaw, Wilshire, Downtown and other lines will be built.

Will LA finally become like San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London, New York or Paris, with tourists and business travelers using mass transit to access what should be a fun and friendly LA Metropolitan area?  Will we have more commuting options than before to create a climate that’s both nice for business in addition to the weather?

And will we one day get to the point where the whole race thing—particularly with respect to transportation projects—isn’t  rammed down our throats anymore?

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently cochairs 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    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)   -cw

Tags: Crenshaw-LAX Line, Crenshaw Blvd, Hector Tobar, race, Little Tokyo, Westside, South Bay, Mid-City, LAX, legal fees

Vol 9 Issue 59
Pub: July 26, 2011