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Getting Serious about LA’s Sidewalk Repairs: A Five-Point ‘Let’s-Get-On-with-It’ Plan

Ken Alpern
FIXING LA-Last Tuesday night's City Council Board of Public Works and Budget Committees met and allowed a lot of good public input to a series of concerned and available Councilmembers and City officials. The attendance and input were both outstanding--I want to thank Councilmember Mike Bonin, in particular, for allowing the outreach and advice to…

Latino Politicians Putting Climate Change Ahead of Constituents

Joel Kotkin
POLITICS-Racial and economic inequality may be key issues facing America today, but the steps often pushed by progressives, including minority politicians, seem more likely to exacerbate these divisions than repair them. In a broad arc of policies affecting everything from housing to employment, the agenda being adopted serves to stunt upward…

Worlds Apart on Kathryn Steinle: When Political Opportunism Reigns Supreme

John Mirisch
MUSING WITH MIRISCH-The small Swedish Jewish Museum in Stockholm is tucked away on a side street. Discreet signage instructs would-be visitors to push a button which activates a camera, so they can be screened before they are granted entry. The museum's permanent exhibition fills one fairly small room. Most of the objects on display are Jewish…

Garcetti Passes, Wesson Fails

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-Our Los Angeles Times has issued midterm letter grades for Controller Ron Galperin (B-) and City Attorney Mike Feuer (B+) and will be posting grades for City Council President Herb Wesson this Sunday and Mayor Eric Garcetti the following Sunday. Our City is facing many difficult issues, ranging from a lagging economy, relatively high…

What LA Really Needs: A Part-time City Council and a Part-time Mayor!

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-There are so many serious and pressing problems facing the City of Los Angeles and few if any real solutions are being proposed or implemented by our elected and appointed leaders at City Hall. I will start with the current city budget. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had a $7.7 billion total budget in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.…

Why Don’t the City’s Women Managers Hire More Women?

Denyse Selesnick
MY TURN-Perusing the web is a little like the soap operas of yesteryear. You get suckered in! One link leads to another link and then one is exposed to a barrage both facts and idiocy. The reason for this discussion was my attending a July Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (VANC) meeting with the Department of Water and Power. General…

Cleaning Up LA City Hall: ‘It’s What’s Legal That’s the Problem’

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD-Everyone understands that developers own our city government. Sure, there are some officials here and there who are upright and independent, but recent history shows that the developers typically get their way in spite of public opposition. Whether it is a zoning change for an office tower or the required permits for a new mall,…

Not So Fast LA! Let’s Consider the Real Costs of Hosting the Olympics before We Jump In

Greg Nelson
SPORTS POLITICS-On Monday, Boston withdrew from its offer to be the nation’s bidder for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. In January, Los Angeles finished second to Boston when the U.S. Olympic Committee made its decision. After Boston was selected to polish up its bid before submitting it to the International Olympic Committee for a final decision,…

Party Crashing for Political Access: Schwarzenegger and My Pantsuit

Charlotte Laws
CALIFORNIA ACCESS POLITICS-Party crashing—or gate-crashing, as it is sometimes called—is an art form that I stumbled upon as a teen. I taught myself how to finagle into any event, anywhere, anytime. It required being part private eye, part actress and part chutzpah machine. I had to think outside of the box, throw myself into the role, and whip my…


Reynolds Rap Video: Joey has hope for the pope in Philly.

Art or Ad? LA’s mural law written in gray ink

Escape the Room-Conan goes for the record … and the laffs

LADWP Rates Overview







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