Could not authenticate you.followers
The Miracle Mile is a desirable place to live, work and visit, with its museums and cultural institutions, office space and employment opportunities, and restaurants and nightlife. But one component that is lacking is adequate public transportation to and from the area, according to a panel of experts who gathered on June 30 at a transportation forum sponsored by Breathe California of Los Angeles County (BREATHE LA).
Titled “Moving Los Angeles Into a Clean Air Future”, the panel included Brian Cornelius, vice president of development for Caruso Affiliated; Jeff Jacobberger, vice chair of the Mid-City West Community Council; Jennifer Regan, global sustainability director for AEG; Stephen Kramer, president of the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce; and Neal Payton, an architect and principal with the firm, Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc. Los Angeles City Councilmembers Tom LaBonge, 4th District, and Paul Koretz, 5th District, also said the city is supportive of new transportations options, such as the subway and new bus-only lanes, in the Miracle Mile.
While many people are concerned about short-term disruptions to transportation, like the closure of the San Diego (405) Freeway (see adjacent article) on July 16 and 17, the panel focused on the long-term efforts that could improve the Miracle Mile. Cornelius and Regan, who both offered perspectives from a developer’s standpoint, said that more needs to be done to coordinate new projects with existing infrastructure and future transportation possibilities. Cornelius said Caruso Affiliated, which built The Grove and the Americana at Brand in Glendale and is currently in the process of building a residential and retail project with a trader Joe’s on Burton Way, offers a mixture of retail shops and entertainment as a draw to its properties. Cornelius added that having an adequate transportation infrastructure to support those types of destinations is crucial.
“Developers are certainly going to benefit from a good and efficiently operated transportation system,” Cornelius said. “We build in areas where there is already extreme density and already a gathering place, like the Farmers Market [next to The Grove]. The thing about transit-oriented investment is it has to be inclusive. Zoning really has to coordinate with transit, because if the two get out of whack, things break down.”
Regan, who represents AEG, which built the Staples Center and the L.A. Live entertainment complex downtown, and is currently advancing plans for a new football stadium, said the company learned many lessons as it developed the area around the Los Angeles Convention Center that could translate to the Miracle Mile. She said the developments downtown benefitted from four major freeways that serve the area, but added that more initial consideration should have been given to expanding public transportation service to the area, and providing adequate security to ensure people feel safe using public transportation. She said AEG now builds projects that will be directly served by bus and rail hubs, and is working with the community to improve public safety and provide quality of life benefits in the surrounding areas.
“It needs to be a balance of multi-modal transportation elements, and trying to [provide everything in one place to] reduce the frequency of trips,” Regan said.
Others on the panel suggested that the projects themselves need to be a more appealing draw to the public, including Payton, who pointed to a suburb of Washington D.C. called Columbia Heights, which was once run down but has been transformed into a trendy neighborhood now that a subway has been built to the area.
“What emerges out of that is 533 new housing units, a new supermarket, renovated live theatres and a bunch of other stuff,” Payton said. “It’s a great place that has emerged. It created 1,200 new jobs, and a 300 percent increase in Metro ridership.”
Kramer added that he is optimistic that new transportation systems like the subway and faster bus lines will improve the Miracle Mile, but also said something needs to be done to encourage ridership.
“You really have to go to the elected officials at all levels,” Kramer said. “Somehow we have got to mobilize the general population a little more. We have the transit-oriented development here, but there is a stigma attached to riding the bus.”
Michael Leasher, a transportation consultant who attended the forum, said he took the subway and a bus from Pasadena, and had some suggestions about how to make the ride more desirable and efficient. Leasher said one thing that needs to be addressed is the bus stops, many of which have no shade or have uncomfortable seating. He also said there needs to be more coordination between the buses and street addresses, because it can be difficult to tell where to get off the bus for a specific building.
“There is not good signage, and a lot of inconsistencies in the block numbers,” Leasher said. “If [property owners and developers] could provide better signage, it would be a big help.”
Jacobberger, who also works as a transportation planner, said the community council is working on a variety of fronts to improve transportation. He said the Wilshire Community Plan, which was updated in 2001 and is generally updated every 20 years, needs to be updated sooner to reflect how development in the neighborhood should coincide with the subway once it is built. Jacobberger also said that congestion in major business areas is oftentimes unavoidable and can show that a neighborhood is thriving. He compared the Miracle Mile to Curitiba, Brazil, which has a business district with skyscrapers built around a central neighborhood that is bordered by residential areas.
“We need to continue to make good transportation-oriented projects, and support transit-oriented development,” Jacobberger added. “If you have a subway station that is not congested, that is not a good thing, because it means it is not being used. Congestion can be a good thing. The urban form doesn’t necessarily destroy quality of life.”
Kramer added that although many of the ideas discussed have been presented before, the forum provides a way of gauging current needs.
“I think a continuing dialogue needs to take place, and the discussion provides that forum,” Kramer added. “It is important to review where we were, where we are now, and where we want to go. It is important because it is not done yet.”
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.