Monday, June 6, 2011

29 More Days to Organize 4 Victory

Posted by Fix Expo Team On April - 27 - 2011 1 COMMENT

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ office has informed us that upon request of the MTA CEO, discussion on the Ridley-Thomas motion, which will underground the entirety of the Crenshaw/LAX Line on Crenshaw Blvd and make the optional Leimert Park Village station official, has been postponed until the next MTA Board meeting on May 26, 2011.  Also, we’ve been informed that three board members whose votes may be pivotal will be absent at tomorrow’s board meeting.

We must utilize the additional 29 days we’ve been given to turn up the volume, to increase the awareness, to strengthen our coalition.

We will be hosting another organizing meeting sometime within the next week or two, and we will have updated flyers.

Check your email early next week for updates and continue checking our website for daily updates.

In the interim, if you haven’t yet, please email the MTA Board members. Request that they “Support efforts to build a subway under Crenshaw Blvd and add a station at Leimert Park Village.”

Send your emails to jacksonm@metro.net and crenshaw@fixexpo.org

A modified version of the sample email is below.

Dear MTA Board Members,

I’m writing to respectfully request you support Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ Crenshaw-LAX Line motion to underground the Crenshaw Blvd portion of the Crenshaw-LAX Line and make the Leimert Park Village station official.  The motion will increase the speed and reliability of service to LAX, eliminate the safety hazards of street-running trains on Crenshaw Blvd, and provide for travelers the opportunity to easily access Leimert Park Village, a cultural gem for the region.  While we do need more rapid transit in our region, MTA need not do it in a manner that will kill the last African-American business corridor in Los Angeles with 4-5 years of disruptive street-level construction in Park Mesa Heights.  Instead, MTA should build the Crenshaw-LAX line in a manner that provides a full opportunity for economic revitalization, which will provide a long-term return on our public investment. Adopting the Ridley-Thomas motion will place us in a position to accomplish this important objective of mass transit projects.

Thank you.

Popularity: 1% [?]

Crenshaw-LAX: A Regional Line

Posted by Fix Expo Team On April - 26 - 2011 1 COMMENT

On Thursday, the MTA board of directors will be presented with an opportunity to approve Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ motion to keep the entirety of the Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail Line underground on Crenshaw Boulevard. The implications of the motion should concern every Angeleno, for the Crenshaw-LAX Line is a true regional rail project, and the Southland needs its last African-American business corridor.

THINK REGIONALLY

The current Crenshaw-LAX project from the future Expo Line Crenshaw station to the Green Line by way of LAX is simply the first phase of perhaps the most significant north-south rail project for our region.

Just consider the Crenshaw-LAX Line extensions that have recently finished study or are currently under study, and one can view a rail line that soon after completion would produce the highest ridership of any light rail line in the country.

Studied extensions of the Crenshaw-LAX Line (click to enlarge)

To the south, MTA has dedicated funding to extend the line deep into the South Bay to Torrance, along a route that parallels the 405 Freeway. Studies have been conducted to take the line even further south into San Pedro or Long Beach.

To the north, preliminary studies have been completed to extend the line to Wilshire to connect with the Subway to the Sea. (pdf) to connect with the Subway to the Sea. Also, last year, MTA planning resources were dedicated to studying an extension of the line beyond Wilshire to the Hollywood/Highland Red Line station by way of West Hollywood (a project that is known as the Pink Line.)

Hollywood, West Hollywood, Miracle Mile, Mid-City, Crenshaw District, Inglewood, Westchester, El Segundo, Redondo Beach and Torrance all connected by one rail line to LAX, a line that would have transfer stations with four of the five east-west MTA rail lines. The implications to the MTA system and region as a whole are huge.

In the South Bay, the line would provide an alternative to the I-405 freeway. And in the north from Hollywood to the Expo Line, the line would have a total monopoly on high-speed transportation, because it would be 100% underground permitting trains to travel 55 mph between stations in a section of our region that has no freeway option. The result: Hollywood to LAX in a little over 30 minutes.

Imagine that.

The only impediment to fast, reliable rail service for this entire line is the median street-running segment in Park Mesa Heights from 48th Street to 59th Street. The regional line, serving Southern California’s air traffic hub, would have to compete with an already overburdened roadway. Over 60,000 cars per day travel this portion of Crenshaw Boulevard, and at the major intersection of Slauson/Crenshaw, MTA’s own studies reveal that rush hour congestion is at its worst possible level (Level of Service “F”) and cannot be improved with a street-level crossing.

From 48th Street to 59th street, the train would have to stop at signals and travel with no crossing gates. Of the nearly 900 accidents on MTA’s street-level Blue Line, America’s deadliest light rail line, 76 percent of all accidents and 92 percent of all vehicular accidents are at crossings with no gates.

If one of the goals of the public investment is to convince travelers that they can make their flights on time by “Go[ing] Metro” — that they need not clog the city streets and 405 to get to LAX — surely it is wise to avoid designs that are known to be problematic and create significant delays to passengers.

PRESERVE & ENHANCE LOCAL ASSETS

The historic African-American Crenshaw corridor has been waiting for its rebirth since at least the civil unrest of 1992. There have been piecemeal public and private investments, but none so singularly significant as the Crenshaw-LAX light rail project. At $1.7 billion, it is the largest public works project in the history of South Los Angeles.

In spite of all the challenges, Crenshaw merchants are still standing. In the Park Mesa Heights community institutions like Dulan’s, Nobody Jones Boutique, Crenshaw Yoga and Margarita’s Café remain, if in the case of some, only by the skin of their teeth.

Ridley-Thomas’ motion would connect the two underground portions of the rail line, avoiding the safety hazards and business impacts of a street-level design between 48th Street to 59th Street in Park Mesa Heights.

To fit street-level tracks on Crenshaw in Park Mesa Heights, MTA would impose a variety of roadway changes that would transform the boulevard, which currently features pedestrian-friendly designs (coupled with a specific plan that requires new buildings to be built in a manner that is pedestrian-oriented) into a highway that is far more auto-centric.

MTA’s street-level plan would make it harder for patrons to walk and drive to the mostly black-owned small businesses. The median lined with mature trees that contribute to Crenshaw Boulevard’s scenic highway status would be wiped out, available parking would be cut in half, and left turns at multiple intersections would be eliminated along with mid-block pedestrian crossings. A tremendous economic revitalization opportunity would be hampered. And the impact on current business with 4-5 long years of street-level construction is daunting.

Could Park Mesa Heights merchants withstand it?

It’s highly doubtful. Far more stable business corridors succumbed in the best of economic times.
It would be a death to the last African-American business corridor in Southern California.

The plight of the Crenshaw business community should concern us all. If Los Angeles is a salad bowl filled with a mixture of cultures from throughout the world, Crenshaw must be the dressing. Our region should no more welcome the destruction of the Crenshaw business community than it should Little Tokyo or Chinatown. Crenshaw is as much a part of our unique identity as a multicultural city, as any other ethnic center. We must both preserve it and enhance it with the Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail Line.

The Crenshaw community is ready for the rebirth that will occur if MTA builds the Park Mesa Heights tunnel. With it will come not just a preserved cultural destination and better public transit, but also a stronger tax base for the region.

Popularity: 4% [?]

Antonovich Stands Up for Crenshaw

Posted by Fix Expo Team On April - 21 - 2011 2 COMMENTS

At today’s MTA Measure R Committee meeting, the committee heard the Mark Ridley-Thomas motion to address the two major remaining defects in the design of the Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail project: the Park Mesa Heights street-level design and the “optional” designation of the Leimert Park Village station. Ridley-Thomas’ motion would direct Metro to integrate a tunnel in the Park Mesa Heights segment (making the entirety of the Crenshaw Blvd portion of the line a subway), and make the Leimert Park Village station official.

antonovichAt the committee hearing, Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who represents the northern section of the county, San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley, expressed his support and proudly seconded the Ridley-Thomas motion.  Ridley-Thomas’ motion will now be forwarded to the full MTA board meeting for consideration on Thursday, April 28th.

Antonovich’s support is to be commended. His vote will be needed at the full MTA board meeting.

Conspicuously, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s appointees to MTA, who sit on the Measure R committee, were absent. Of the 13 members on the MTA board, Mayor Villaraigosa controls 4 votes, himself and his three appointees. Two of his appointees, Richard Katz and L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar, sit on the Measure R Committee, but they were no shows.

antonio-crenshawIt begs the question, is Mayor Villaraigosa ducking the issue, or even worse, is he opposed?!

Will Villaraigosa stand up for Los Angeles’ Crenshaw community, the way he has so boisterously stood up for Los Angeles’ Wilshire community?

We’ll find out Thursday…that is if he and his appointees bother to show up for the most important single vote on the future of the Crenshaw corridor.

Popularity: 2% [?]

Crenshaw’s Fate is in MTA’s Hands

Posted by Fix Expo Team On April - 21 - 2011 1 COMMENT

The following release was sent from our organization on Wednesday.  It was covered in CityWatchLA and The Neighborhood News.

MTA to Vote on Fate of Crenshaw Line Subway & Leimert Park Village Station

At next Thursday’s MTA board meeting, board member and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will be offering a motion to address the two major remaining design issues for the proposed Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail, which is to scheduled to begin construction next year: undergrounding the entirety of the Crenshaw Blvd portion of the rail line, and adding a station at historic Leimert Park Village.

Of the 8.5-mile $1.6 billion line, which will add the Crenshaw District, Inglewood, Westchester and LAX to MTA’s growing rail system, 2 of the 3 miles in the Crenshaw Blvd portion is proposed to be built underground in a subway. But community groups want the final mile, between 48th street to 59th street (known as the Park Mesa Heights segment), underground and the currently “optional” station at historic Leimert Park Village to be official. Ridley-Thomas’ motion would require MTA staff to identify the estimated $339 million necessary to include both options into the project, and proposes as potential resources currently uncommitted funds from the recently passed Measure R sales tax for transportation.

“This is the moment we’ve been working to get to for over 4 years,” said Damien Goodmon, coordinator of the Fix Expo/Crenshaw Subway Coalition. The coalition has brought considerable attention to the rail safety, traffic and environmental disruption from street-level rail lines through their Fix Expo Campaign regarding the Downtown-to-Culver City Expo light rail line. Simultaneously, they’ve cautioned the board to avoid the mistakes of the Expo Line when building the Crenshaw Line.

“The rail safety issues on the Expo Line can also be seen on the Crenshaw Line,” said Lester Hollins, a former MTA light rail operator and parent of a Crenshaw High School graduate. “If built at street-level the train will pass right in front of View Park Prep and just a block away from Crenshaw High School. We’ve already seen numerous children hit crossing Crenshaw Blvd. Adding a 225-ton train traveling 40 mph to the mix is like pouring fuel on a fire.”

Jackie Ryan Save Leimert signThe economic impacts of street-level construction and operation on Crenshaw Blvd, an internationally recognized African-American residential and business community, are just as severe.

“This is the only remaining corridor of African-American small businesses in Southern California, and we’re barely making as it is,” said Jackie Ryan, past president of the Leimert Park Village Merchants Association. “Does MTA really want to be known as the agency that put the nail in the coffin of one of America’s most noteworthy black business communities?”

“In addition to 4 to 5 years of destructive street-level construction between 48th and 59th streets, the current MTA plan would require equally devastating cut-and-cover construction on Crenshaw Blvd from 59th to the Harbor Subdivision tracks at 67th Street,” said Clint Simmons, a retired JPL professional engineer. “If Ridley-Thomas’ motion is adopted, a bored tunnel would be used the entirety on Crenshaw Blvd, minimizing surface level disruption.”

tbm-2ndavesubwayBored tunnel construction involves the placement of a large mining machine in a shaft at a station area, and mining between 30-60 feet below the street. Surface level disruption is limited to the location of the stations.

Ridley-Thomas’ motion would also appropriate the resources necessary to make the currently “optional” Leimert Park Village station official.

“The businesses of Leimert Park Village, current and future, need a station at Vernon to allow all Crenshaw-LAX Line riders to easily access our village which is an international tourist destination and a cultural gem to Southern California,” said Ryan. “Building a Crenshaw-LAX Line that does not have a stop at Leimert Park Village is like painting the Mona Lisa without a face.”

“The choice before the MTA Board could not be more stark,” said Goodmon. “The MTA board can vote to effectively kill the last remaining African-American commercial corridor in Southern California by voting down the motion, or they can provide for the Crenshaw community the greatest opportunity for economic revitalization perhaps ever.”

Popularity: 2% [?]

The Fight for a Station in Leimert Park Village

Posted by Fix Expo Team On April - 16 - 2011 3 COMMENTS

Right before the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement in the late winter of 2009, the MTA announced that they considered a station at Leimert Park Village, the Southern California African-American center of arts, culture, and social/political discussion “optional.”  Prior to this, the Leimert Park Village station was considered the headliner of the project.

Please read the following flyer distributed by Save Leimert Neighborhood Coalition, a lead member of the Fix Expo Campaign/Crenshaw Subway Coalition, distributed during the Crenshaw Line station area planning meetings in the late winter of 2010.  It includes excerpts from the Save Leimert comments into the Draft Environmental Impact Report:

Crenshaw Line Community Update – November 5, 2010

Speak up and Demand MTA build a Crenshaw Line Station at Vernon!!!

The MTA, which is controlled by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, currently considers a station on the Crenshaw Line at Vernon “optional.”  Our community must demand that MTA build the Crenshaw Line correctly through our community by providing a station at Vernon to directly serve Leimert Park Village and our internationally renowned center of arts, culture, consciousness, political dialogue, and black-owned small businesses.

MTA’s excuse is that a Leimert Park Village station would not be needed because another is 0.5-mile away at King Blvd and that a station would be too expensive are unfounded.  A half-mile is well beyond the comfortable walking distance for the great majority of people.  As a consequence Leimert Park merchants and the local economy would lose potential business.  Additionally, all other MTA rail lines have stations spaced much closer than a half a mile, including the Blue Line (in Downtown Long Beach), Red Line (in Koreatown), Green Line (in El Segundo), and on the under construction Expo Line (around U.S.C. where there are 3 stations in less than 0.75-mile).

The “too expensive” excuse is something that rears its ugly head every time a South L.A. community dares to demand quality and equity from a public agency.  MTA just received an unexpected $546 million federal loan for the Crenshaw Line.  Before the ink on the check dried, Westside politicians and Mayor Villaraigosa publicly stated that they saw the loan as a mechanism to improve and accelerate OTHER MTA projects. We must demand that the benefits of the loan be spent improving the Crenshaw Line, including a Leimert Park Village station at Vernon & a subway tunnel in Park Mesa Heights!

Excerpts from Save Leimert’s Comments to MTA Re: Leimert Park Village Station Area

Leimert Park Village station must have a mixed-use park and ride facility and is a better location for one than King.

Regardless of where the station box is located, the Leimert Park Village station must have a park and ride facility.  The publicly-owned LA Department of Transportation parking lot west of the Degnan Blvd properties presents the opportunity for a mixed-used Park and Ride, jointly operated between MTA and LADOT.  In addition to mitigating transit patrons parking in residential areas or using scarce small business parking, the facility can fulfill smart growth/pedestrian-oriented principles of local planning policies by serving as Leimert Park Village’s central parking location and meet the parking requirements that will result from: the Leimert Park Village Crenshaw Line station, the reopening of a state-of-the-art Vision Theater, a new African-American museum and cultural center (Schomburg West), and possibly a corner market. [Read about the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Clubure in Harlem]

We partially share the vision for the Leimert Park Village area illustrated by MTA design consultants at the September ‘08 Crenshaw Transit Corridor working group meeting.

Rendering of a thriving Leimert Park Village with new buildings on the City parking lots (click to enlarge)

Rendering of a thriving Leimert Park Village with new buildings on the City parking lots (click to enlarge)

At the LADOT parking lot west of Degnan properties, Save Leimert envisions a facility with 2-3 stories of subterranean parking, a ground floor level dedicated to retail and short-term parking, the upper 2 to 3 levels dedicated to office space and television/radio studio, and a rooftop terrace.

Potential tenants include the Tavis Smiley Group, which previously expressed strong interest in moving into a Leimert Park Village mixed-use property, and should be accommodated especially if the station box is located at the Vernon triangle, which would require the acquisition of their building.  The rooftop terrace with views of the Downtown L.A. skyline would create a scenic filming location.  Angeles Vista Pet Medical Center, which may be displaced by positioning the station at the Vernon triangle, could be relocated to a ground floor location on the 43rd St. side of the new facility.  In addition to ideally black-owned businesses, the Congressional District 33, Council District 8 and CRA/LA South L.A. office could relocate to the mixed-use park and ride. To help foster a constant flow of commercial activity, a small LA DWP payment/customer service office could be located on the ground floor, especially if the LADWP King Blvd location is used for the King station.  The DWP facility could convert into a community center or student-run café.  The community has also expressed strong support for a corner market in Leimert Park Village to provide a quality grocery store alternative.

Design and construction of the mixed-use park and ride can and should begin immediately, and the structure can be funded from several resources not solely tied to the Crenshaw Transit Corridor project budget.  Completion of the mixed-use park and ride would improve opening day ridership, reducing early operational costs, allow businesses potentially displaced by the Vernon triangle station option to seamlessly move into the structure and reduce parking impacts.

Improving the pedestrian linkages throughout the Leimert Park Village area will increase ridership.

Improving pedestrian linkages to the surrounding Leimert Park Village station area is crucial to increasing Crenshaw Transit Corridor and transit ridership in general.  It would encourage local area residents to walk to the station and Leimert Park Village area, reducing vehicular trips.  This is true and must be considered for all of the Crenshaw Transit Corridor stations.  Widened and decorative sidewalks, crosswalk improvements, additional lighting and landscaping all facilitate a safer and more inviting pedestrian-oriented environment that conforms with several local planning policies and generates more transit ridership.  In the Leimert Park Village station these and other pedestrian improvements should be visible from at least 43rd Street to 48th Street and Leimert to Crenshaw.

Popularity: 3% [?]

Apr 20 Mtg & MRT Motion

Posted by Fix Expo Team On April - 16 - 2011 5 COMMENTS

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
6:30 – 8:30 PM

5760 Crenshaw Blvd (map)
Los Angeles, CA 90043
(US Bank Community Room)

If you have not yet heard the news, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is offering a motion at this month’s MTA board meeting (April 28th at 9 am) [UPDATE: Vote Delayed to May 26 MTA meeting same time and location] to alter the design of the Crenshaw-LAX Line. (see below) The motion would:

  1. Add the Leimert Park Village Station at Vernon
  2. Put the section of the project in Park Mesa Heights from 48th to 59th street underground.

To be clear, right now Metro doesn’t want to do either of these options. They don’t want to build a station at Leimert Park Village, and they want to run the trains at street-level from 48th to 59th street right in front of View Park Prep and a block away from Crenshaw H.S.

If Ridley-Thomas’ motion is adopted by the MTA board, the result would be a Crenshaw Line that is entirely underground in the Crenshaw Blvd portion, and has stations at Exposition, the Crenshaw Mall, Leimert Park Village and Slauson. Said simply, it would designed on Crenshaw Blvd how we’ve been requesting over the past 4 years for this project.

Ladies and gentlemen - THIS IS THE MOMENT WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR. And we’ll need to show up to the MTA board meeting on the 28th in large numbers. So we will have an organizing meeting on Wednesday to get folks up to speed on the issue, understand the politics at play, and assign work necessary to pack the house!

Mark Ridley-Thomas Park Mesa Heights Tunnel and Leimert Park Village Station Motion

Popularity: 3% [?]

Help with the decision making

Help Win “THE DECISION”

We need your help to win “THE DECISION” on the Crenshaw subway & Leimert Park Village station: attend the MTA board mtg, email the MTA board, and spread the word.

Campaign for Stimulus & Measure R Funds to Grade Separate the South LA Portion of Expo

MTA now has more resources that by law has to be spent on rapid transit expansion. Now is our time to request these resources go toward FIXING EXPO!

Responding to MTA Spin & Deception

A comprehensive response to the spin, red herrings, and half-truths delivered by MTA/Expo, complete with agency memos, testimony, studies, pictures, videos and all.

Separate & Unequal: Expo Phase 1

Compare the design of the Expo Line Phase 1 west of La Cienega to that in majority-minority South LA and it’s clear that Expo Phase 1 is textbook environmental racism.

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