Saturday, November 22, 2014

Is Metro Pushing Development at the Cost of the Community?

There's no question mass transit is on the upswing in Los Angeles. The general population may not have noticed quite yet, but they will. LA Metro has been aggressive about pushing their agenda on all fronts planning bus lanes, expansions, light rail and a vast subway line expansion. All of those options are exciting even if they remain years off. The competition of phase two of the Expo Line that revives one of the most popular Red Car lines and reconnects Downtown to Santa Monica via rail will no doubt bring fanfare. It's important to applaud Metro's tenacity when faced with opposition like Beverly Hills High School and their ability to adapt as they research ways to connect the Crenshaw Line to LAX. Just this week Metro announced a potential expansion linking the Red, Orange and Gold lines. All this doesn't mean that Metro gets to ignore the neighborhoods where they are fighting to bring quicker and simpler transportation. Mariachi Plaza, a station on the successful and expanding Gold Line, is stirring up controversy this week. Metro has planned to increase development on this site. The problem is no one in the community was aware of the plans for 120,000-square-feet of retail and office space until Metro voted on the exclusive negotiations to build this project which would use both Metro land and private land. The business owners and local residents were perturbed that while they were promised input, only a handful knew of these plans. Many are concerned about the change this might bring to their neighborhood and the small business owners who have supported this community long before there was a light rail. Metro reacted quickly, pushing the vote on this project back until February allowing enough time for local input. Metro shouldn't be leaving the communities they serve behind as they push their transit agenda and they can't afford to the lose the trust of their riders.

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