Monday, May 2, 2011

The Fight for a Station in Leimert Park Village

Posted by Fix Expo Team On April - 16 - 2011

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.

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2 Responses to “The Fight for a Station in Leimert Park Village”

  1. [...] The Leimert Park Station total to be a prohibited subject of contention during this week’s Board Meeting. Image: Fix Expo [...]

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