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Commentary: Transit-Focused Community Plan on Track to Failure

Resident George Abrahams shares a statement he plans to submit at the Planning Land Use and Management Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Hollywood Patch accepts and publishes emails to the editor regarding any relevant local issue. The views expressed in the following commentary do not reflect the opinion of the publication, its editor and/or its writers. Emails may be edited for length and clarity. Have an opinion? Write to the Hollywood Patch editor at lindsey.baguio[at]patch.com.

Commentary submitted by Hollywood resident George Abrahams.

A community plan will fail if it does not account for the reality of human nature or have regard for human desires. All living creatures are by nature autonomous beings. We want to go where we want, when we want and how we want, and live where we want. We will not tolerate being forced to go only where public transits wants to take us, only when public transit is running or only by the means that public transit make available.

The US Census American Communities Survey proved that in Los Angeles public transit takes 1.73 times longer than by car alone and that only 11% of people prefer multi-unit housing but LA has 40% multi-unit housing.

Among the major metropolitan areas, the densest urban area is Los Angeles, at a density of 6,999 per square mile. That is why there has been a 7.4% population decrease in Hollywood over the last 20 years and all the mixed-use transit oriented development projects are failures. Hollywood-Highland lost $450 million, only 29 of 143 condos at Hollywood-Vine have been sold after 2 years and half of the commercial space at Hollywood-Western is still vacant after 12 years. You can avoid reality, but you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.

— George Abrahams, Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association

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Philip Mershon May 08, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Bravo!!!
Toivo Lainevool May 09, 2012 at 04:31 AM
I have several issues with this piece. The comments section of Patch does not allow enough room, so I've broken it into 3 pieces. Part 1: "We want to go where we want, when we want and how we want, and live where we want. We will not tolerate being forced to go only where public transits wants to take us, only when public transit is running or only by the means that public transit make available." Having public transportation in no way limits your ability to get in your car and go wherever you want to. No one is forcing you into the subway. Increasing the available public transportation gives you more choice in how to get there. It gives you MORE autonomy.
Toivo Lainevool May 09, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Part 2: "The US Census American Communities Survey proved that in Los Angeles public transit takes 1.73 times longer than by car alone" This is exactly why we need more development near the subway. The commute time get lower if you are closer to a subway. If you are taking a bus from the valley and then transferring to the subway, of course your commute times are going to be higher. Hopping on a subway in Hollywood to go downtown is an easy, quick commute.
Toivo Lainevool May 09, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Part 3: "Among the major metropolitan areas, the densest urban area is Los Angeles, at a density of 6,999 per square mile. That is why there has been a 7.4% population decrease in Hollywood over the last 20 years and all the mixed-use transit oriented development projects are failures." I'm not sure what the average density of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area has to do with people moving out of Hollywood. I think the more telling statistics have to do with population densities at the city cores, not the average of the whole Metro area. New York City - Metro Area: 2,828 - Principle city: 27,012 Los Angeles - Metro area: 2,646 - Principle city: 8,092 (See: http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_SF1_GCTPH1.US21PR&prodType=table for these figures taken from the 2010 Census) When we look at the population densities at the core parts of the city, New York has over 3x the density. This is why public transportation works better in New York City. If we had denser population cores in Los Angeles, the public transit system would improve.
Scott Zwartz May 12, 2012 at 03:31 AM
On the surface Toivo makes sense, but when you know the deeper issues, Abramhams is right. The TOD's attempt to force people not to use cars. They even have an organziation Beyond Cars, whose objective is to get cars out of L.A., Councilman Reyes lamented that there's no way to prevent people from owning cars. The city allows developers who build in TOD to have greatly reduced parking or no parking at all. The council defunds the road repair crews to make traffic even worse. There is a concerted effort to prevent people from using cars. The poor will be the ones who bear the greatest burden as always. Subways, on the other hand, are not intended for transportation. Their real purpose is to justify more super high density construction which makes the land values of a very few people much greater. The subway covers less than 5% of LA.
Scott Zwartz May 12, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Public transit takes longer and forcing people to live in crowded conditions in order to have a shorter walk to the subway is a tad totalitarian. Why should people live in cramped quarters with no yards just because some social engineer wants the people to use the subway? The city should be constructed for the quality of life of the people. The people should contort their lives in order to maximy land values of the mega-wealthy. Try going to the SaveHollywood.Org wensite and downloading, "What Density Does Not Tell Us about Urban Sprawl."
Scott Zwartz May 12, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Sorry, you're totally wrong. The dense core of Manhattan does not make the subway function in New York. What makes it function is that Manhattan is 2.5 x 11 mils, 28.5 sq miles. The subway goes everywhere you have to go in Manhattan. Angelenos routinely have a 5,000 sq. mi area and in 2010 dollars it would cost $2 Trillion dollars to build a subway for the City, which is 1/10 the area of the urban area. The City is a little less than 500 sq. mi. Read the 1915 Los Angeles Transit Study -- the math and finances of subways have not chnaged in 100 years and they won't change in the next hundred years. TOD's are a scam by a few landowners to concentrate whatever "growth" we might experience in the future onto a few narrow strips of land. That transfers land value from the land just beyond the TOD -- except for one thing. The billionaires forgot that Americans can't be pushed around that easily, and they are fleeing the dense areas. As the CRA tried to push more density into Hollywood, an exodus began leaving Hollywood with a huge bubble in central Hollywood. The W Hotel has sold only 29 of its 143 condos and the owners had to buy some. That's worse than JMorgan's $3 Billion trading loss. Every Hollywood TOD has been financial disaster.
Toivo Lainevool May 14, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Scott: "Subways, on the other hand, are not intended for transportation" I often take the Subway for transportation, have you ever taken the subway? It's a very good way to travel. Cheaper and less stressful than driving and trips from Hollywood to downtown are just as fast as driving.
Toivo Lainevool May 14, 2012 at 04:17 PM
"and forcing people to live in crowded conditions " Who's being forced? I choose to live in a condo. I don't want a yard. Sorry I'm not into gardening. I couldn't find the "What Density Does Not Tell Us about Urban Sprawl" you talk about.
Toivo Lainevool May 14, 2012 at 04:28 PM
I wasn't referring to Manhatten I was talking about New York City. The census data I referred to defines the principle city area of NYC as 302.64 sq. miles. The NYC transit system actually does cover an area of over 5,000 square miles. See http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/m/metropolitan_transportation_authority/index.html I briefly looked at the 1915 Transit study and it is obviously out of date. Here are a few things that were different in 1915 that make a huge difference almost 100 years later 1) The average radius of the city was 5 miles. The report talks about possible expansion beyond these limits into non-city areas. Where does LA expand to now? I think were a bit passed that point. 2) The city did have a great rail system in the early 1900's - The Streetcars. The report even says - "No residential congestion, or massing of any considerable part of the resident population in any limited area, exists, due doubtless to the comprehensive plan of street car trackage affording equal accessibility to practically every portion of the municipality". It's obviously not the same today.

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