Expo Line with L.A. skyline in the background (Photo - Steve and Julie, flickr).

      Expo Line with L.A. skyline in the background (Photo – Steve and Julie, flickr).

      First, advocate for a multi-billion transit line that will serve your home neighborhood. Then once it’s built, make sure nobody else can move to your neighborhood to take advantage of the taxpayer-funded transit line. It’s a classic bait-and-switch, and it’s happening now along the Expo Line in West L.A.

      By Ethan Elkind

      What’s at stake is an already-watered down city plan for rezoning Expo Line stations areas. The city’s “Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan,” while rezoning some station-adjacent areas for higher density, still leaves a whopping 87% of the area, including most single-family neighborhoods, unchanged, and with too-high parking requirements to boot.

      But this weak plan is still too much for Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz and his homeowner allies, including an exclusionary group of wealthy homeowners assembled under the name “Fix The City.” They oppose even these modest changes to land use in the transit-rich area. Essentially, they’ll get the financial and quality-of-life benefit of the Expo Line, while working to ensure no one else does.

      As Laura Nelson details in the Los Angeles Times:

      Koretz told the Planning Commission this month that the areas surrounding three Expo Line stations in his district “simply cannot support” more density without improvements to streets and other public infrastructure.

      It’s a view shared by advocates from Fix the City, a group that has previously sued Los Angeles over development in Hollywood and has challenged the city’s sweeping transportation plan that calls for hundreds of bicycle- and bus-only lanes by 2035.

      “It’s like when you buy a new appliance, you’d better read the fine print,” said Laura Lake, a Westwood resident and Fix the City board member. “This is not addressing the problems that it claims to be addressing.”

      If Koretz and his allies have their way, their homeowner property values will go up with the transit access, but taxpayers around the region have to continue subsidizing the line even more because neighbors are not allowing more people to ride it. And to boot, they will keep regional traffic a mess by not allowing more people to live within an easy walk or bike ride of all the jobs near their neighborhood. Essentially, they force everyone else into long commutes while keeping housing prices high — an ongoing environmental and economic nightmare.

      near transit
      is an idea
      that should’ve
      died long ago

      Thankfully there are others mobilizing against these homeowner interest groups, such as Abundant Housing L.A. But two things need to happen now: first, the Expo neighborhood plan needs serious strengthening, including elimination of parking requirements and an end to single-family home zoning near transit stops. Second, L.A. Metro needs to hold the hammer over these homeowners by threatening to curtail transit service to the area. I see no reason why taxpayers should continue to support service to an area that won’t do its part to boost ridership on the line.

      Single-family zoning near transit is an idea that should have died long ago. It has no place in a bustling, modern, transit-rich environment like West L.A. The Expo Line bait-and-switch must end.

      Ethan Elkind directs the climate program at UC Berkeley Law, with a joint appointment at UCLA Law. His book “Railtown” was published by the University of California Press in 2014.

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      1. Alexis Kasperavičius says:

        The author speaks of single-family homeowners as if they are somehow bad for having enough money to buy a house. As if there is something inherently wrong with reaping the benefits of their hard work.

        That because a long-dormant train line has been reactivated after 50 plus years, they should just give up their house for the good of “the people” and not complain?

        I looked him up and laughed out loud when I discovered he’s faculty at Berkeley.

        • nick says:

          No one said that homeowners need to give up their homes. However, they shouldn’t be able to block others from from turning their homes into duplexes, triplexes, or whatever if they choose to do. Let the market decide,

      2. dbadefense1990 says:

        It’s incredible how polarizing Metro trains have been in terms of economic and social growth.

        If a neighborhood stands firm against Metro-related development, people will accuse that area of being full of asshole, homeowning NIMBYs.

        If a neighborhood is more lenient towards Metro-related development, people will state that racial gentrification will happen and force the relocation of that neighborhood’s homeowners who can’t afford the rent/mortgage because of asshole hipsters and yuppies.

      3. jbisinla says:

        Only if they put in decent bike infrastructure, and manage to do it without road diets that just make everybody else upset. The roads around the Palms station area nightmare for bikes. Even that section of the Expo Line bike path is terrible/nonexistent.

      4. Richard B says:

        If the area doesnt want to allow greater density within a 1/4 mile of the stations, close the stations. Just have the expo line run straight through as an express service.

      5. jitatime says:

        Even if everyone agreed when their signed the paper years before..some twat would appear the moment the ground breaking happens stalling shit.

      6. SmellGestapo says:

        They should close the stations in those neighborhoods until they agree to upzone.

      7. JustMrJones says:

        This is happening along every rail line. Baldwin Hills, North Hollywood, East Hollywood, Chinatown, Inglewood, Boyle Heights.

        Metro and LA County needs some sort of binding agreements with cities that they upzone sufficiently or partially reimburse the county.

      8. Eurynom0s says:

        As always, NIMBYs are arguing in bad faith. The new housing wouldn’t just appear overnight; infrastructure improvements, if necessary, would be part of the planning process.

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