By Kelsi Maree Borland, March 17, 2015
The conference was held at the Johnson Club in Downtown Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES—Public transit is the key to creating a livable city,
according to the city leaders on the Infrastructure and Urban Design:
Plans, Projects, Ideas and Ways to Make L.A. a More Livable City panel
at the USC Gould Real Estate Law and Business Forum last week. The panelists, which included William H. Fain Jr., partner and director of urban design and planning at Johnson Fain; Michael Govan, CEO at Wallis Annenberg and director at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Matthew J. Parlow, associate dean for academic affairs and a professor of law at Marquette University Law School; Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Second District; Martha L. Welborne, chief planning officer at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and panel moderator, Keith M. Allen-Niesen of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, each presented the ways in which they are making Los Angeles a more livable community.
“We need more public transportation, and we need it faster,” said Fain on the panel. He used the example of the much-needed EXPO Purple Line
extension, which will expand the subway line from Koreatown to the
Westside. The 9-mile extension, however, will be completed over the next
20 years, and Fain says that this is too long, noting that a five-times
larger extension in London was completed in half the time. However,
the problem is not the lack of effort from the city’s elected officials
and the MTA, but rather funding problems.
Welborne agreed that the key to creating a more livable Los Angeles
is enhanced public transport, but disagreed with Fain that they weren’t
doing it fast enough. According to Welborne, the MTA has built 132 miles
of rail line in the last 25 years, and those rails move 1.5 million
people per day, almost as much as Chicago, which moves 1.7 million
people per day. In the next 30 years, thanks to $35 million in funding
from measure R, there will be a total of 218 miles of rail line
throughout Los Angeles.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said that he also thinks that access to
public transit is the key to creating a livable city, however, you can’t
damage small businesses in the process when buying the land to build
these extensions. “When we gain public transport, we cannot crush mom
and pop businesses in the process,” he said on the panel. “We cannot be
considered livable when we destroy these places.” In addition to public
transit, he also noted the education and clean, safe streets as being
important to creating a livable city.
Unsurprisingly, Govan took a different approach, citing arts and
culture as the key to creating a livable city. Since 2006, LACMA has
seen some huge growth, doubling its campus size, and has been named the
fourth most Instagrammed museum in the world. “For economic development,
arts and culture is a bigger driver than sports,” he said. Annually,
LACMA contributes $493 million to the economy.
THE USC Gould conference also included a discussion on crowdfunding, which is expected to generate $20 billion in 2016.