By Ken Alpern, October 14, 2014
GETTING THERE FROM HERE-Last Thursday night, at the Crenshaw/LAX Community Leadership Council (CLC) meeting, my disappointment at having to race out of an incredible restaurant (Dulan's on Crenshaw), and run home to my "daddy responsibilities," was superseded only by the self-inflicted wound by Metro and the Crenshaw/LAX contractors (Walsh-Shea) when they couldn't deliver on Leimert Park's longstanding-but-simple request:
Come up with a parking replacement plan (PRP) to accommodate businesses during construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line.
But tomorrow, next week and next month all give us a chance to revisit the mistakes of yesterday--I intend to go back to Dulan's on Crenshaw and avail myself of their incredible service and food, and Metro and Walsh-Shea has the chance to come up with a first-rate, numerically-appropriate parking replacement plan (PRP) to restore its credibility with the neighborhood.
Credibility...that's a concept that's often forgotten in our media/Internet-distracting world, but despite modern technological advancements our brains and morals are still the same. So while I'm respectful to the Metro Crenshaw/LAX team of Brett Roberts, Kinya Claiborne, and JC Lacey, it's because of that respect that I have to honestly say they blew this one.
Last Thursday night's debacle (which need not have occurred) was one that the Metro team should have seen coming, and they're smart enough so that they could have and should have been able to give a space by space accounting to accommodate the businesses and their customers, and which was what the community has been clearly and repeatedly articulating for years.
The angry room could have, and should have, had a prepared inventory of where the spaces would be so that they had ready-made answers to the reasonable and inevitable questions that the merchants had been inquiring about for so long.
And just as I well remember the Leimert Park residents who years ago responded favorably to the Crenshaw/LAX Line concept, and to transit-oriented development, when fellow Westside transit advocate Kent Strumpell invited me to join him in presenting these concepts, I also remember that the Crenshaw community took the bold step of favoring a light rail line over a cheaper and less invasive Rapid Bus line.
So for anyone reading this, let's not demonize or dismiss the angry Crenshaw crowd as NIMBY's.
Furthermore, let's not demonize or dismiss the angry and frustrated crowd of DaVita/HealthCare Partners professionals (and other commuters) who, last Saturday morning, discovered to their horror that the Downtown exits on the I-110 freeway were ALL closed down due to maintenance by Caltrans.
There were no warning or detour signs to prevent motorists from needlessly being re-routed past Downtown to the 101 freeway, and then left to fend for themselves.
Similarly, the Crenshaw community will have to fend for itself as it negotiates the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line unless the Metro/Walsh-Shea team realizes its full potential and works with the community to come up with a quality PRP.
I am fairly certain that the businesses (such as supermarkets, gas stations, etc.) and nearby residents in that region can come up with a parking space-sharing plan to provide alternate parking during construction, a plan that will win the numbers game and provide that aforementioned PRP. I'm sure that neighborhood organizations and Neighborhood Councils can help.
Yet there is a dangerous and underlying theme in the failure to create a PRP for Leimert Park, and the failure to warn and provide Downtown detours for Saturday morning commuters, and the de-prioritizing of parking in the Westside Mobility Plan (another concern for those who truly want mobility in the City of the Angels):
The city of Los Angeles planning, transportation and zoning have leaders who are caught up in ‘groupthink’ that disregards, if not holds in contempt, the needs of commuters who require an automobile.
Which is why we not only have a parking shortage but we see a disdain for those who raise that concern as one for our transportation and other governmental workers and leaders to address.
A PRP for Crenshaw? Warning motorists (including the large medical group of DaVita/HealthCare Partners which had its annual leadership conference last Saturday morning) about the shutdown of Downtown I-110 exits? Making darn sure that the Westside Mobility Plan, and all new Westside and other City developments, had parking as a key priority in their planning?
No, motorists are suddenly Public Enemy #1, and both Metro and the LADOT do not recognize their needs or importance as once they did.
Which is pretty sad, because these same motorists pay many of the taxes for our current transportation initiatives, and will be the ones we turn to in order to potentially pass yet another initiative (often called "Measure R-2") in 2016.
And no, these motorists aren't interested in demonizing or dismissing the needs of bicyclists, transit riders or pedestrians, either...so why should motorists and businesses (who both require parking) be demonized or dismissed, in turn.
Food for thought for the folks from Metro, LADOT, Caltrans and the leadership of the City of the Angels to consider as they pursue more transportation funding from beleaguered and befuddled taxpaying motorists.
On a final note, I'll make the following suggestion to LA Mayor Garcetti, City Council Transportation Chair Mike Bonin, and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas: come up with a quality PRP for the Leimert Park ASAP, and start treating motorists like human beings with feelings...and, in return, maybe we can derive a quality long-term Metro mobility plan that will encourage us all to pass a Measure R-2 in 2016 to fund it.
And--again--I recommend visiting and eating at Dulan's on Crenshaw--the people and food there are first-rate!