Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CEQA Attorney happy to take NIMBY money

This is the first in what will be a series of humorous articles in transportation and real estate in Los Angeles.  None of the quotes are real.


Neighbors for Smart Rail suffered a setback today when Judge Thomas McKnew gave an intial recommendation to dismiss their lawsuit against phase II of the Expo light rail project.  This is a huge setback for the group, which opposes the light rail line from Downtown LA to Santa Monica, as the group believes it might impact resident's ability to access the freeway to sit in congested traffic to Downtown LA or Santa Monica.


NSFR's Attorney John Bowman was more optimistic about how he would fare in the case: "I'm getting paid either way. Sure, attacking a sustainability transit project based on its impacts to is a bastardization of the spirit and letter of CEQA. Sure, Expo Phase II anticipated lawsuits and knew they had to do a bulletproof analysis of environmental impacts and mitigation measures. I don't think there's necessarily a strong case here, but I'll gladly take their money. Plus, the weaker the case, the more they have to pay me to develop a challenge which won't get laughed out of court."

Regardless of the outcome, Bowman anticipates future business from the NSFR group. "This group has a thirst for lawsuits. They also seem to be very concerned about kids mixing with vehicles in the neighborhood. Any judge will realize that light rail vehicles have professionally trained drivers and can only have pedestrian conflicts within its right-of-way. Automobiles, however, which encompass the vast majority of vehicle traffic in the neighborhood can deviate from the roadway and impact pedestrians in the clear zone.  That seems a lot less safe.  I think I can convince them to launch a case to ban vehicles from the neighborhood using an arcane 19th century California law governing carriageways near schoolhouses. Of course, that would require a lot of legal research and preparation of briefing documents, but I think they're willing to pay me for it.  Work is slow for lawyers right now, and NSFR helps keep my firm in business."

Neighbors for Smart Rail representative Terri Tippet was upset at the setback but took it as a sign that the group needed to raise more money to challenge the project.  "If we throw enough money at it, maybe it will go away," said Tippet.  "We've raised over $65,000 so far and we'll raise whatever we need to take this to the Appellate Court and California Supreme Court."


Reminder: This is the first in what will be a series of humorous articles in transportation and real estate in Los Angeles.  None of the quotes are real.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Email the Metro Board of Directors to express your support for the Wilshire bus-only lane

Want to express your support for the Wilshire BRT project, but too busy or too delayed on the bus to find all of the relevant email addresses?  Below, you will find email links for the Metro Board Members and maps that show the areas they represent.  Sending them an email is as easy as clicking the link, signing the email and clicking send (it will use your default email program).   Gmail users: here are instructions on how to set up Gmail as your default email program.
Subject: I Support the Wilshire Bus-Only Lane INCLUDING Comstock to Selby through Westwood
Supervisor Molina
I support the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project in its entirety.  This project will provide congestion relief for transit riders from all over the region.  Excluding the portion of Wilshire between Comstock and Selby will cause more congestion for myself and other bus riders who create minimal traffic and environmental impacts as we travel around the county.  It will also set a dangerous precedent for future projects which have regional mobility and sustainability benefits.  I urge you to vote yes on Alternative A.
This text will pop up in your email program.  You might want to sign your name at the end of the message.
This will also BCC wilshirebrt@gmail.com to keep track of comments.

If you'd like to email all Board Members at once, you can do so here (or Outlook users can click here). 


Metro Board of Directors
LA County Supervisors Representatives
Gloria Molina - First Supervisorial District
Mark Ridley-Thomas - Second Supervisorial District
Zev YaroslavskyThird Supervisorial District
Don Knabe - Board Chair - Fourth Supervisorial District
Michael D. AntonovichSecond Vice Chair - Fifth Supervisorial District


















Los Angeles City Representatives
Antonio R. Villaraigosa - First Vice Chair, LACMTA
Mayor, City of Los Angeles
José Huizar - City Council Member, Los Angeles
Richard KatzAppointed by the Mayor of Los Angeles
Rita RobinsonAppointed by the Mayor of Los Angeles













Representatives from other Cities

Diane DuBois
City Council Member, Lakewood







John Fasana
City Council Member, Duarte







Ara Najarian
Mayor, City of Glendale

Pam O’Connor
City Council Member, Santa Monica



Also check out the letter at meekadjustments.blogspot.com

Friday, November 26, 2010

Transit Agencies: This is why you should have your data in GTFS format with a license that allows for non-commercial derivatives


Mapnificent from Stefan Wehrmeyer on Vimeo.

Mapnificent now available in Los Angeles.  Transit agencies take notice.  It takes a developer with some specific expertise just a few lines of code to roll such products out to new cities, and they can provide immense value to your users.  Any investment your agency makes in publishing schedule data in GTFS (Google Transit's General Transit Feed Specification) will be leveraged several times over with third party sites like Mapnificent, Walk Score's Transit Score, and of course Google Maps for Mobile (available for all major smartphone operating systems).  Can your web site do that?  How much would it cost you to develop the capability in-house?  Wouldn't it be great to provide this kind of service to your customers with no additional expenditures or contracts?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Metro's Visa+TAP program seems destined to flop

Metro is looking at rolling out Visa cards for use in contactless fare payment, but these cards will only allow pre-existing tap products (day/week/month/quarterly passes) but no new declining balance option?  Perhaps these cards will offer this ability and Metro's staff report is misleading - if this is the case I'd love to be corrected in the comments.

The potential benefits to customers are limited:
  • one fewer piece of plastic to lug around (for a small subset of customers who have Visa ATM cards)
  • as this enables no new fare payment options there are no other benefits.  There are already limited-value debit cards for sale, so that aspect of the product is not new.
The benefits to Visa seem much greater:
  • Metro, a government agency with some trust from riders, markets a Visa Debit card to the unbanked.  Visa (and the issuing bank) earn a service fee for each initial purchase and reload.

The main benefit of enabling contactless payment debit cards for use with a transit system is in offering a declining balance payment option.  New York MTA has figured this out with their integration of Mastercard's PayPass.  This enables PayPass holders to use that card as cash fare, giving occasional riders the same ease of payment as pass-holders.

It seems that Metro has defined the problem as: "How do we offer some sort of branded contactless fare payment system that will allow us to demonstrate technological advancement in fare payment when the Board asks about other system's programs (e.g., New York's) without further troubling the Board with the root political issues surrounding use of declining-balance fare payment with multiple agencies?"  Metro will never be able to move forward with new, innovative, fare products unless it solves that issue, and the Metro Board is the only body with the political to solve it.

I would think that most customers would define the problem as: "How do you make my transit experience more seamless?"  The proposed Visa cards do nothing to address this problem.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can the richest neighborhoods be exempt from bus lanes?

Can the richest neighborhoods be exempt from bus lanes?  Richer cities Santa Monica and Beverly Hills are already not participating in the bus-only lane.  Now, Metro and LA DOT must decide whether the richest section of the City of Los Angeles that the bus lane passes through will also be exempt.

Here's a look at median household income (2004) around the Wilshire Corridor.  Blue = highest incomes, yellow = lowest incomes.


Note that UCLA students are poor... Wilshire Blvd is in red.

And here's a look at traffic along the Westwood to Beverly Glenn segment in question:


Note that there is substantial traffic east of Manning

Residents are worried that subtracting a general purpose traffic lane will lead to more traffic.  However, if residents are worried about neighborhood traffic rather than transit riders, they are misdirecting their concern. I argue that the majority of PM peak traffic congestion  in Westwood and Brentwood is a direct result of the current metering system which restricts access to the 405.  Vehicles arrive at the 405 onramps a rate faster than the meter allows access to the freeway.  This backs up vehicles seeking to enter the freeway, essentially turning Wilshire Blvd into a waiting area, which creates congested traffic through on side streets Westwood and Brentwood even when there is little congestion on the 405.  There is a real trade-off between congestion in these neighborhoods and on the 405 that residents in these areas do not seem to be aware of.  More on this in a future blog entry.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Metro Planning an Android App

As a frequent reader of Engadget, I know that job postings frequently spill the beans on planned technology developments.  From this job posting, I learned that Metro is planning an Android application.  This shouldn't be surprising, given that Android is the most popular operating system for both Metro Riders and the fastest growing smartphone OS in the US.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NBC Universal Evolution's Proposed Shuttle System an Inadequate Mitigation Measure

NBC Universal is planning a sizable development (3000 residential units, plus studios, office, and an expansion of the theme park.) on a portion of their property:


They're also planning to create a new shuttle system to mitigate some of the traffic impacts:

They outline how this proposed shuttle will work in mitigation measure B-2:

  • Service from Lakeside Plaza Drive Transit Center to the Universal City Red Line Station
  • Service from Lakeside Plaza Drive Transit Center to Downtown Burbank & Burbank Media District
  • Service from Lakeside Plaza Drive Transit Center to Hollywood
  • Service to operate with 15 minute headways during peak hours and 30 minute headways during off-peak hours
  • Shuttle system to be guaranteed for 20 years

On the surface, this seems like a viable way to shift some trips to transit.  However, I have several concerns with the proposed shuttle system:

  1. How will the system integrate with the existing Metro & Municipal service in the area?  Will the system use TAP cards? Will it accept transfers?  In order to get a meaningful share of trips originating or terminating in the project area, the private shuttle will need to integrate well with the greater Los Angeles Transit System.  Connecting with the Universal City Red Line Station is a start, but people want to go places other than those served by the red line.
  2. Fifteen minute headways are inadequate for peak periods. The shuttle route to the Universal City Red Line Station is 2 miles long.  This means that two shuttles will run during peak periods, and one shuttle during off-peak.  To be more attractive to users, service would have twice the number of shuttles and operate every 7 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes during off-peak hours.
  3. Even with the service improvement, ridership on the line will lag. In order to be a effective, a transit line must connect at least two places where people want to go.  For example, the Metro 704, 720, and 733 lines all connect downtown LA with Downtown Santa Monica
  4. Those going from much of the project site to downtown Burbank will have to transfer shuttles at the Lakeside Plaza Drive Transit Center.  This transfer penalty would mean that few people with a choice between the shuttle and a car would take the shuttle.

Also, they'll buy Metro one (1) articulated bus and operate it for 3 years, and then pay for a portion of operations for another 7 years. (this is measure B-1)

A more effective traffic mitigation alternative

NBC Universal not build a private shuttle system and instead pay a portion of the cost to extend the Metro Rapid 750 line or create a new Metro Rapid line through the site to Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena.


As you can see from the map above, the proposed Metro Rapid line or extension would connect major job centers along the route (in darker shades of blue).  The connection between these cities currently one of the biggest gaps in the Metro Rapid System.  The proposed line would connect:

  • Universal City Metro Rail Red Line Station
  • Universal Studios
  • Evolution @ Universal City
  • Warner Brothers Studios
  • NBC Studios (Alameda)
  • Burbank Metrolink Station
  • Downtown Burbank
  • Downtown Glendale
  • Americana @ Brand
  • Eagle Rock
  • Pasadena Gold Line (Memorial Park Station)
  • Pasadena City College
If the line is an extension of the Metro Rapid line 750, it would also connect:
  • Studio City
  • Sherman Oaks
  • Sherman Oaks Galleria
  • Encino
  • Woodland Hills
  • Warner Center
  • Westfield Topanga
(as an extension, every other bus from Warner Center may be a short line to Glendale (780 provides connecting service to Pasadena)

Universal Studios would be at the heart of the 750 extension.  If Universal Studios aims to further its position as a regional entertainment destination, it should welcome the opportunity to better connect the district to its employees and patrons.  Additionally, Metro Rapid extension allows Evolution employees and residents access to many other places than West Hollywood and Downtown Burbank.

Interesting Statistics about Transit Oriented Development in Los Angeles

I've been using some Census and Local Employment Dynamics statistics to do some analysis of transit station areas in Los Angeles.  My research center at UCLA is working on an expanded project to look at changes in transit station areas over time.  In my preliminary work, I've found some interesting bits of information for areas within 1/2 a mile of a Metrorail or Orange Line station:

  • 21% of Los Angeles County jobs which pay over $3333/month are in these areas (for 2008)
  • In 2000, 23% of those living within 1/2 mile of a transit station took transit to work. An additional 5% walked. 
  • In 2000, 70% of Los Angeles County residents drove alone to work.  In the areas near transit stations, 51% drove alone to work.
  • Under 5% of the county's population lived within 1/2 of a mile of a transit station in 2000.  Now, it's well over 8% (new figures will be out in December).
  • Those living within 1/2 mile of a transit station in 2000 were 380% more likely to take transit to work than those not living near stations..
  • Those living within 1/2 mile of a transit station in 2000 were 193% more likely to walk to work than those not living near stations.
  • 17% of Los Angeles County Jobs (in 2008) were within 1/2 mile of a transit station.
And focused on the Westside Subway Extension
  • There are 52,000 jobs within 1/2 mile of the proposed Westwood Stop.  
  • There are 10,000 more jobs within 1/2 mile the Constellation/Avenue of the Stars stop than the Santa Monica/Avenue of the Stars stop
  • If only the Century City and Westwood stations were open today, about 19% of all jobs in the county and 25% of jobs which pay $3333/month or more would be within 1/2 of a mile of a transit station.  (This analysis does not include the other purple line stops at the VA, Rodeo, La Cienega, Fairfax, or LaBrea)
The point I've seen so far is that the larger the transit network becomes, the more valuable access to that network is.  In 1990, before the Blue line opened, there were 0 jobs within 1/2 a mile of Metrorail.  In 2010, about 17% of jobs are now within 1/2 mile of Metrorail.  With the projects in Metro's Long Range Transportation Plan this figure will continue to grow.

Los Angeles County Jobs Heatmap (Data exported from US Census Bureau's LED on the Map)


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two scenarios for Century City in 2050

Subways are very expensive to build. Tunneling costs around $250 million per mile and stations cost around $200 million a piece. However, subways dramatically increase accessibility (and land value) within a quarter mile of stations.  Putting the station next to underutilized land will create future development pressures.

What might happen if the Century City subway stop was located at Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars instead of the current center of Century City at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars?

The Los Angeles Country Club, to the north of Santa Monica Blvd, has 36 holes.  The holes are split into a North Course (north of Wilshire) and a South Course (between Wilshire and Santa Monica).  The LACC could reconfigure the South Course to 9 holes and sell the roughly 50 acres that will be within a quarter mile  of the Subway Station for development.

Last week the old 8-acre Robinsons May property next to the site sold for $148.3 million, or about $18.5 million per acre.  (incidentally, back in 2007, it sold for $500 million, or $62.5 million per acre).  With a subway station, a healthier real estate market, and City of Los Angeles Zoning policies, and inflation the site could probably once again sell for $60 million per acre in 2020 after the subway opens.  The Country Club (owned by its members) would get $3 billion , a pretty healthy sum considering 27 of the 36 holes will still be open for play.

Here's what Century City looks like today:

Here's what Century City might look like in 2050 with the Purple line on Santa Monica Blvd and half of the South Course developed.

Another Century City grows north of Santa Monica

With the station at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars, the golf course is more than a quarter mile away and won't have the same development pressures.  Here's what Century City might look like in that case:

Development pressures result in growth near the station.


The point is that in 40 years, the Metro Westside Extension Purple Line stop will be in the heart of Century City, regardless of whether it's built at Constellation or Santa Monica.  Those in Beverly Hills opposed to having tunnels under their homes today should consider the future effect of a second Century City with little or no roadway capacity increases.

I believe that the subway should be sited at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars.  The point of this post is to illustrate that placing the subway station will have consequences for the future of Century City.  Short-sighted and predominantly unfounded arguments that a subway should not be placed under homes will have long-term consequences that will likely increase traffic on residential streets in Beverly Hills.

Big Blue Bus is now on Google Transit

Try it out at maps.google.com

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sign the Bruins for Transit Petition to Support the Subway to UCLA

Back when we were transportation planning graduate students at UCLA, Sirinya and I helped start Bruins for Traffic Relief, a student club founded to promote reliable, quick, and affordable transportation access to and from the UCLA campus.  Its now 2.5 years later, Sirinya and I now work at UCLA, and the club is now known as Bruins for Transit.  The mission remains the same.

The group has put together a petition for the UCLA community to voice their support for the Westside Subway Extension to Westwood/UCLA.  Signing the petition takes about 15 seconds.  You can tweet your friends using the shortened link http://bit.ly/B4TWSE 

If you have additional comments you would like to share with the Metro Board, email them to WestsideExtension@metro.net by October 18th. You can find more information on the project and the environmental review documents at the project's web site.

Here's the text:


To the Honorable Metro Board of Directors: 
Whereas, UCLA is a major cultural and employment institution in Los Angeles that attracts a large, diverse population of of over 60,000 students, staff and faculty in addition to medical patients, arts patrons, and other visitors 
Whereas, a subway to Westwood/UCLA would greatly improve quick, affordable transit access to the campus for this diverse community and is expected to see up to 14,000 boardings per day at a Westwood station 
Whereas, a subway to Westwood/UCLA would allow students greater access to internships and job opportunities in Downtown, Miracle Mile, Century City, Hollywood, and other areas served by Metro 
Whereas, a subway to Westwood/UCLA would allow quicker access to UCLA from affordable neighborhoods served by rail and bus transit, which will allow UCLA students, who face increased tuition and fees, faculty and staff, who face who furloughs and pay reduction, to reliably access the campus from affordable neighborhoods outside of the Westside 
Whereas, a subway to UCLA would accomplish an array of public benefits that extend beyond UCLA, including reduced greenhouse gas emissions, a new travel option for those who require or seek alternative transportation, and lower transportation costs for residents and employees of all income levels in Westwood and elsewhere along the expanded system 
Whereas, Bruins for Transit campaigned for Measure R in 2008 because it would fund the subway to Westwood/UCLA. 
We, the undersigned, strongly support the Westside Subway Extension and urge the Metro Board to approve the Draft Environmental Impact Report and select Alternative 2, extending beyond Westwood/UCLA, as the locally preferred alternative.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Get Big Blue Bus on Google Transit!

Big Blue Bus has raised fares and changed schedules, but they're still not on Google Transit. They've consistently promised to go on Google Transit but this promise has been consistently delayed. Pressure Big Blue Bus to join Google Transit by signing the petition below and getting your friends to do the same:

http://www.petitiononline.com/smgt/petition.html

In two weeks, we will present them with the petition, and work to get them on Google Transit. If they fail to respond with a date and plan to get on Google Transit, we will raise the issue with the City Council and major customers of Big Blue Bus, such as UCLA and Santa Monica College.

As we saw with Metro, there is strength in numbers. Let's get the Big Blue Bus to realize how many of their frequent, occasional, and potential riders value Google Transit.


Petition wording:
To:  Santa Monica Big Blue Bus

Whereas, we ride transit regularly and would benefit from better schedule information or would ride transit more often if schedule information were easier to access.

Whereas, many of us use Google Maps to locate businesses, and find driving, biking, walking, or transit directions, and we find this interface familiar and easy to use.

Whereas, Google Maps for Mobile is available for or included with the four leading smart phone operating systems: Android, Blackberry OS, iOS, and WebOS.

Whereas, the unavailability of Big Blue Bus directions on Google Transit creates unnecessary confusion for transit riders who use Big Blue Bus.

We hereby request the following:

1) That by 10/30/10, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus commit to and publicize a date by which its scheduling data will be available on Google Maps (Google Transit); and,
2) The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus publicize its progression through the steps needed to migrate its data to the GTFS format, reach a licensing agreement with Google, upload the data to Google, test the data, and make the data available to users of Google Maps for Mobile or the Google Maps Web Site.
Sincerely,


Monday, September 13, 2010

11024 Strathmore will help meet many community goals, but will it be built?

A new development project proposed in Westwood's North Village would help meet many community goals:  improving housing affordability, reducing traffic congestion, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  However, the project may never get built because members of the Westwood Design Review Board, which has oversight on design matters, thinks it's "too bulky" and the units are "not great places to live."  

The Design Review Board considers the project on Wednesday, September 15th at 4:30 PM at the 11214 Exposition Blvd at Sepulveda in the LA DOT's Henry Medina Building.  I will be there to speak about the regional greenhouse gas reduction benefits of this project.  I encourage you to come and speak as well.  Pay the meter (this is parking enforcement's district headquarters) or take Culver City Bus Line #6.




The 11024 Strathmore project has received approval from the Planning Commission, is consistent with the Specific Plan, and provides more parking than required by code.  The developer has made numerous concessions over the past 18 months including:




a)      breaking-up the monolithic building mass into two distinct buildings,
b)      adding an elevator to eliminate bridges between the two buildings,
c)      eliminating a project entrance along Strathmore Drive,
d)     decreasing Project height at the corner of the site,
e)      tapering the building height to mirror the natural grade change along Strathmore Drive,
f)       setting back the top floor of the building to improve site lines 
(the developer lists over 20)

I'm not going to judge whether or not the Design Review Board's disapproval is in fact based in design elements under their purview, or a move to restrict new development which could affect properties they own.  I do want to express some of the benefits of the project from a local and regional perspective:

While many students would love to live in a palatial estate, such as the nearby Playboy Mansion, none can afford it.  Instead, students pack into on-campus dorms, near campus apartments, and a variety of neighborhoods in West Los Angeles and Palms.  Many prefer North Westwood Village because of its proximity to campus and fellow students.  However, because there are far more UCLA students who want (demand) to live near campus than there are available apartments (supply), apartment prices are very high.  A failure to build sufficient apartment units to meet this demand has also led to efficient parking problems.  Prices are so high that many students choose to double up in bedrooms (considering triple-occupancy dorm rooms are more expensive), or convert dens and other living areas into sleeping areas.  Any additional supply of housing units to the neighborhood will help ease affordability issues. Construction costs rise with square footage and space-efficient apartment units allow students and young professionals, who haven't accumulated a household of furniture, to pay less rent.  While it is likely that a new construction project will be priced higher than existing apartment units, the new supply will create a cascading effect which will improve affordability at the lower end of the market.

Increasing unit occupancy has increased the effective density of North Westwood Village, but has also led to issues with parking. Students, faculty, and employees living in the area will walk, bike, or skateboard into campus.  However, transit service through the area is poor, given its density, and many residents who commute to campus also maintain a car for trips outside of Westwood.  In a letter supporting the project, UCLA Professor and parking expert Donald Shoup noted that the last Census showed that more residents of North Westwood Village walk rather than drive to work, but that the neighborhood has the second-highest density of cars in all census tracks in large cities in the United States.  It's no wonder that cars are parked anywhere and everywhere in North Westwood Village.


The 11024 Strathmore Drive addresses this issue by unbundling the cost of parking from the cost of housing.  Those who wish to live near UCLA without a car will pay less for rent. They'll be able to park bikes for free in the 94 bike stalls.  Those who want to bring a car will have to pay to park it.  If not enough people in the building are willing to pay to park, the developer can sell to nearby residents, alleviating some existing parking hassles.  

The project will reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.  How so?  Too often in the past, the solution to traffic congestion has been to restrict densities in areas where people want to be.  Instead of promoting pedestrian in bike traffic in places where people want to be, such density restrictions lead to more traffic congestion everywhere.  The collective effect of neighborhoods rejecting new development has been that new development locates at the fringes of regions - where there are no established neighborhoods to reject developments.  However, this also means that people who would rather live within 5 miles of the places they want to be now live 50 miles from the places they want to be.  This hasn't done anything to alleviate vehicle traffic in the places people want to be: they're still going there.  If anything, it has exacerbated traffic congestion in areas where people want to be by making it more difficult to access these areas without a car.  By adding 90 miles to the daily trip, it also causes significant traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.  

People want to be at UCLA.  The proposed project is two blocks from the UCLA campus.  By unbundling the cost of parking from units and providing free bike parking, the developer has taken measures to reduce the impact this development will have on the neighborhood.  The existing lot has been a scar on the neighborhood since the prior building was demolished in 2005.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Westwood residents to Metro: Bring us the subway! Please be careful!

Last night we attended the special Westside Subway Extension meeting where metro discussed the impacts of tunneling under a residential area.  Jody Litvak and David Meiger from Metro did an excellent job explaining the need to study 12 potential routings between Century City and Westwood, the testing metro has been doing in the area (seismic, water, and other hazards), how deep the subway would go (70-110 feet below the surface) and how Metro expected no observable surface impacts from tunneling or operations.

Jody presented a slide on damage to subway systems resulting from earthquakes: there hasn't really been any.  Even in the 8.8 Chile earthquake this year, the subway reopened the next day with no tube damage. The surface fared less well.  I guess the subway is the place to be during an earthquake.

(via The Source)


On the subject of earthquakes, the Santa Monica fault runs along Santa Monica boulevard, which complicates the Santa Monica-Westwood Boulevards routing.  It also means that Metro will likely need to reinforce and widen the tunnels where they pass through the faults.

This meeting was the first time Metro presented the specific properties the different route options would tunnel under.  Something I didn't know is that property rights extend to the core of the earth and that metro purchases easements for their tunnel right-of-way. The following two routes are, in my opinion, the most probably routings as they go between the Constellation station in the heart of Century City and the off-street UCLA Lot 36 option in Westwood.  Both stations will have higher ridership and lower community impacts than the on-street Santa Monica and Wilshire Blvd options.  The routing is subject to change as the engineering process progresses.

The Direct Option minimizes the distance the subway travels under homes:




The "Cross-Country" option has smoother curves and travels a longer distance under homes.


Metro had been studying a Santa Monica to Westwood Boulevard option because it would appear that it would travel under fewer homes.  They call this the "Westwood Loop" However, subways can't make hairpin turns, and this option still travels under a large number of properties:


Metro will release a presentation that counts how many homes each route will tunnel under (via The Source)


It would also be more expensive and result in a much longer travel time (via The Source)



When the public comment period came, I was expecting a slew of residents who were opposed to the project and didn't want the subway going under their house.  The KTTV Fox 11 News reporter was also expecting some opposition:



There were 16 public comments.  Fifteen were supportive of the subway and one commenter asked a question without expressing support or opposition to the subway.  I think the lack of comments opposing the subway is a testament to the well-thought out presentation that addressed uncertainty with tunneling, earthquake hazards, and surface vibrations and noise from subway operation.  If there was public concern and opposition amongst attendees before the meeting, the informative presentation quelled these fears.

In fact, one of the commenters is an architect who works worldwide on sound sensitive studios and facilities.  He said that, in his opinion, with almost 100 feet of dirt between the subway tunnel and a building serving to absorb vibrations, that there would be no detectable impact from the tunnel operations.  He also won the "from the neighborhood" award (commenters often disclose how long they've been living in the area) - he was baptized in the church where the meeting took place.