Erwin at Sepulveda, Metro Orange Line Parking Lot.

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.

Red area is the parking lot of the Orange Line. It is now used predominately to store autos from Keyes Audi. (Source: ZIMAS)

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.

Singapore Housing Estate with parks and nearby public transportation.

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.

Imaginery view from Sepulveda and Erwin looking west. In reality, Singapore.

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?

Orange Line Metro Parking Lot at Sepulveda/Erwin

3 thoughts on “A Twelve-Acre Parking Lot

  1. Sooooo….

    The bus-as-light-rail thing began in Curitiba, Brazil under mayor Jaime Lerner going back to the 70s and 80s. Curitiba had 24/7 gridlock, no money, and a large population of people who couldn’t afford private vehicles. So Lerner and his staff invented the bus-only travel lane on regular roads and made the bus stops look and feel sexy. Then they zoned for private development at each transit node. It worked. And on tight “developing nation” budget.

    Why didn’t the same plan work for Van Nuys? Why did the Orange Line cost so much and deliver so little? Because LA doesn’t really want to be the kind of city with transit and density. It’s moving in that direction one way or another anyway. But LA is choosing “another.” Half assed suburbs and half assed urbanism with half assed transit. Shrug. I don’t have to live there.


  2. “Yet here, alongside a public transit route, taxpayer funded Metro Los Angeles chooses to rent its land for an auto dealership. ”
    Triple sinning! Wrong, bad and worse.
    The area just south of the Orange Line, where the fuel storage facility is now, was on the block for redevelopment a few years ago, in the Wickes furniture era. But perhaps only in the sense every large lot in the Valley is is in ‘redevelopment”.
    Imagine a pedestrian bridge over the bus line, connecting four structures.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s