When the Metro Orange Line opened in October 2005, it was a stunningly different type of transport system which combined a bus only road with a landscaped bike path that ran alongside. It cost about $325 million.
It connected North Hollywood with Woodland Hills, and eventually carried over 30,000 riders a day. Since 2015, due to Uber and Lyft, ridership has fallen to about 22,000 a day.
Hundreds of homeless encampments have sprung up on the bike trail.
But Metro forges ahead!
There are plans to create gated crossings at intersections to speed up bus travel. There are long-term ideas to convert the entire system to light rail and also build elevated bridges over Van Nuys Boulevard and Sepulveda.
In Van Nuys, at Sepulveda and Erwin (north of Oxnard), there is a car parking lot for the Orange Line Metro riders. It is over 526,000 square feet, paved in asphalt, planted with trees and shrubs, and comprises over 12 acres.
Today, over 2/3 of it is used as an outdoor storage lot for Keyes Auto.
The Sepuvleda/Erwin site is “Exhibit A” in the DNA of Los Angeles, because the right thing to do would be constructing 10-20 story apartments along the public transit route and creating incentives for residents to ride buses, take trains and use bikes for daily commuting.
If LA were Singapore, Tokyo or Toronto we would do that.
Instead our city languishes and fights and wishes to preserve a 1950s idea of everyone going somewhere by car.
And thousands of new cars are lovingly housed on land paid for by public taxes which should be used as housing and parks for the greater good of this city.
Nothing beneficial for Los Angeles ever happens overnight. It takes years of planning and legal battles, for example, to build assisted or low cost housing, or parks.
One can imagine the fury and fear that might arise if a 12- acre park and housing development were planned on this parking lot ranch.
What, by miracle of God, might be possible here in terms of a park or high-rise group of apartments, placed near the bus line, with a buffer of trees, water features, and gardens between the new residential city and the single-family houses to the north of the site?
Yet here, alongside a public transit route, taxpayer funded Metro Los Angeles chooses to rent its land for an auto dealership. How does that benefit the surrounding residents?
For people who are obsessed with traffic, imagine that thousands of vehicles are parked here ready to be turned on and put onto the roads. How does that feel Van Nuys?
If the new planned housing estate were policed, regulated, secure, and it also provided a new park wouldn’t that be an improvement?