Los Angeles County


What Next For The Subway To The Sea?

The Second District Court of Appeal has upheld the environmental impact report for the extension of Los Angeles’s Purple Line, removing another hurdle for construction of the “Subway to the Sea” through Beverly Hills. Now we'll see whether the Beverly Hills city and school district will appeal to the California Supreme Court.

The subway extension has been consistently opposed by both the City of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District, primarily because it would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority is planning to locate a station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars, in the middle of the Century City business district, which is located immediately west of Beverly Hills High School, rather than further north along Santa Monica Boulevard.

In ruling against the city and the school district, the appellate court emphasized the need to give great deference to the lead agency in reviewing decisions about whether to recirculate an EIR.

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A Plan with 'Zero' Chance of Success

In 2013, 34 pedestrians died on the streets of Denmark. The city of Copenhagen, roundly hailed as the world's pleasantest city for walking and biking, has about 10 percent of Denmark's population of 5.6 million. We can extrapolate that exactly three pedestrians died in Copenhagen in 2013, for a rate of about 0.5 per 100,000.

To be sure, those three deaths deserve due lamentation, scrutiny, and sympathy. On the other hand, they deserve celebration. Copenhagen's pedestrian fatality rate is about as low as it gets. The lowest pedestrian death rate of any major American city is 0.76. Copenhagen's pedestrian fatality rate is a full five times lower than that of the City of Los Angeles, which, at 2.57 (pdf) puts it towards the high end.

If you divide Copenhagen's fatality rate by Los Angeles', you get 19 percent. The question that some in Los Angeles are now asking is, what happens when you divide by zero?

Mobility Plan Nudges Los Angeles Towards New Transportation Modes

There’s a scene in "X Men Origins: Wolverine" in which a government scientist infuses every bone in the title mutant’s body with an inviolable metal called adamantium. The process is excruciating, but it leaves Wolverine with the distinct benefit of near-indestructibility. And claws.  

That’s kind of like what the city of Los Angeles is doing to its transportation network. With the adoption of Mobility Plan 2035 , the world’s first great automobile-oriented city could become the first city to de-orient itself from the automobile. The city will not merely cease adding lane-miles; it will, in fact, take space away from personal automobiles.  

“In built-out cities, we’re not in the business of widening streets anymore, particularly in downtowns,” said Seleta Reynolds, director of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. 

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Q&A: Cole Returns to Small City Roots in Santa Monica

A veteran of planning and public administration in California, Rick Cole has built a career on the premise of bringing innovation and common-sense planning to the jurisdictions in which he has worked. The former mayor of Pasadena and city manager of both Ventura and Azusa, Cole entered big-city administration in 2013 as Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation in the City of Los Angeles. This May, Cole elected to return to his small-city roots with his appointment as city manager of the City of Santa Monica. Cole takes office amid a tumultuous time in Santa Monica, when pressures to grow are running headlong against concerns over traffic, loss of civic character, and housing costs. CP&DR’s Josh Stephens spoke with Cole about his plans for a city that captures the best – and worst – of California planning in microcosm.
What inspired you to leave the City of Los Angeles for its neighbor?
Clearly Santa Monica has the opportunity to be a model as it has been a pioneer in so many areas. The biggest challenge facing the city is maintaining its diversity in the face of market forces that are driving housing prices to stratospheric levels.

Beyond that, Santa Monica is Ground Zero with the opening of the Expo Line for creating a new model of mobility in Southern California. Given the increasing polarization over development issues, we have the challenge of forging a healthier and constructive model for civic engagement. One that promotes dialog and genuine search for common ground.

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Carson May Deny Mobile Home Subdivision Based on General Plan Inconsistency, Court Rules

In a split decision, the Second District Court of Appeal has ruled that the City of Carson acted properly in denying the subdivision of a mobile home park because this change in ownership structure was inconsistent with the general plan by placing at risk wetlands within the park, which were reclaimed from contaminated oil friends and are called out in the open space element of the city’s general plan.

The Second District’s ruling in Carson Harbor Village v. City of Carson is the latest ruling in the lengthy litigation between the mobile home park and the city over whether to permit the mobile home park to subdivide its property and require mobile home tenants to own their individual lots. Mobile home residents typical own the mobile home but rent the property on which it sits, which is often subject to a municipal rent control ordinance. Mobile home park owners have fought back using a wide variety of tactics, including the proposed subdivision of their property.

 In a previous unpublished decision, Carson Harbor Vill., Ltd. v. City of Carson (Apr. 30, 2010, B211777), the Second District ruled that the city could not deny the mobile home subdivision based on inconsistency with the general plan. However, in 2012 the California Supreme Court ruled in Pacific Palisades Bowl Mobile Estates, LLC v. City of Los Angeles, 55 Cal.4th 783, that mobile home subdivisions are subject to both the Coastal Act and the Mello Act. The Second District reversed its earlier decision based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Pacific Palisades. 

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Motion Picture Academy Lays Giant Egg on Fairfax Boulevard

The intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Boulevard is under an evil spell.  Otherwise, I can’t account for the two most questionable museum proposals to descend on the area formerly known as the Miracle Mile.

Beating Boston at Its Own Games

Are there any two American cities more different from each other than Boston and Los Angeles? History vs. modernity, compactness vs. sprawl, chowder vs. kale, sun vs. snow, modesty vs. flash, intellect vs. entertainment. 

Back in January, Boston beat out Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., to become the United States Olympic Committee’s official pick to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Since then, civic leaders in Los Angles have been nearly salivating with every hint of disaffection on the part of the Beantown faithful. Concerns were legion: Boston doesn’t have room; Boston’s transit system can’t handle the crowds; Boston doesn’t have the facilities; Boston doesn’t want to spend billions; Boston, to be characteristically blunt, has better things to do.

Santa Monica Backs Off Density, Centers in LUCE

In 2010, the City of Santa Monica adopted a Land Use and Circulation Element to its General Plan that was hailed as a model of progressive planning. The LUCE foretold a denser but, possibly, less trafficked and more pleasant city and was one of the first such elements to achieve the goals of SB 375. Cities across the state looked to the LUCE as a model. It won "Outstanding Comprehensive Planning Award, Small Jurisdiction" from the California Chapter of the American Planning Association http://www.cp-dr.com/node/2773.

The LUCE was designed to generate zero net new car trips in the city by 2025 and to reduce the city’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 200,000 metric tons compared to 2010 levels. It also provided a bookend to the 1984 General Plan update. Back then, the city sought to increase its employment base but did not promote housing accordingly. 

Five years later, Santa Monica has plenty of jobs – 74,000 in a city of 92,000, with pressures increased with the recent rise of “Silicon Beach tech firms – but has taken a step back from the LUCE, eliminating a density bonus “tier” and four of five “activity centers” identified in the LUCE. And if a slow-growth group gets its way, a full repudiation of the goals of 2010 may be in the offing. The situation sets a politically sensitive table for the new city manager, urban planning legend Rick Cole, who started work on June 29. 

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Los Angeles Metro Tackles First Mile, Last Mile Problem

As almost any transportation planner in Los Angeles County will attest, the car capital of the world is well on its way to becoming a transit capital as well. With tens of billions of dollars invested in recently opened and anticipated mass transit lines, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has transformed the county. Even so, Metro can’t be everywhere. 

Valencia Water Company’s Status Becomes a Newhall Ranch Football

This article was corrected on June 2, 2015.

The longtime battle over Newhall Ranch has spilled into unusual legal territory with a fight over the status of the private water company that would likely serve the development project.

Uniquely, the Valencia Water Company (VWC) may be California's only active large-scale water provider that is neither public, nor mutual, nor regulated as a private entity by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

VWC still supplies water day by day to some 31,000 existing hookups serving about 120,000 people in the Santa Clarita Valley of Los Angeles County. But legally VWC has been in an odd state of existence for a little over a year.  Opinions differ whether VWC is public or private, what rules apply to its continued operation, and even by what right it operates at all.

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