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

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 

If you have additional comments you would like to share with the Metro Board, email them to 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.