It would be interesting to watch if this could really happen, especially to see how it would affect Dallas employment news.
Annie | www.rpc.us.com
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
Just after a meeting with Metro officials, Howard Katz, a vice president for Casden Properties, sits in Grand Park downtown explaining why people shouldn't be fiercely fighting a massive apartment building and Target shopping center he wants to build at Pico and Sepulveda boulevards.
"Casden West L.A." would be a 17-story monument to high-density, "transit-oriented living," rising from the rubble of a concrete plant northeast of the 405 and 10 freeway interchange, replete with a "transit concierge" help desk to aid residents and travelers in navigating nearby Metro Expo Line and bus stops.
The 638 households containing some 1,800 renters are to be a new breed of Westsider. They will pay extra to be awarded a spot in the 2,000-space garage, and if they don't pony up to billionaire developer Alan Casden, they'll have to pay a garage fee or scour the surrounding streets for parking.
In this grand social experiment plopped in the center of L.A.'s Bermuda Triangle of traffic — if you enter, you may not escape — some residents will get free Metro passes to nudge them to use buses or light rail.
But the project's many critics say it's just too big and would turn Sepulveda Boulevard — used by thousands as an alternative to the 405 — into a transit-oriented tragedy.
Casden's claim of being "transit-oriented" gives political cover to the developer-tied Los Angeles City Council if it approves Casden West L.A. and helps convince residents to accept the plan — that's what some passionate transit-oriented development advocates say.
"This is such a farce," says Ken Alpern, president of the Transit Coalition, which advocates mass transit and transit-oriented development. "This is simply overdevelopment, and they're using the line that 'this is affordable housing and transit-oriented' so that this passes muster."
In fact, Alpern says, Casden's luxury development "gives mass transit a black eye. ... And you're talking to someone who worked his ass off over a decade to make [mass-transit expansion] happen."
Katz, a bearded 60-year-old, is the public face of Casden West L.A. His boss, the combative, brawling developer who has spread 90,000 apartment units across the land since the 1980s, is widely known for not playing well with others. But Katz, wearing a button-up shirt with rolled-up sleeves, has the laid-back swagger of a Hollywood executive.
"Yes, we're going to add cars," he says. "Are they going to make the intersections not work? No."
As Katz emphasizes Casden's dedication to mass transit, he pauses midsentence, holds a hand skyward and jolts in his seat as though something inspiring has fallen from above. "The more dynamic public transit is, the hotter the site gets," he explains.
He talks of mutuality: The neighborhood needs to be successful for Casden to be successful, and vice versa. To show how plugged in to public-transit culture he is, Katz tells stories about his rides on Metro buses and trains.
It's Katz's job to "flush out" concerns. He's made presentations to neighborhood councils, politicians, city planning employees and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's political appointees to the Planning Commission. This, while trying to soothe residents who seem fed up with Villaraigosa's mantra of remaking L.A. by adding lots of large apartment complexes near fixed rail and bus lines.
Few people seem excited about Casden West L.A., aside from Katz and Casden. To make the massive project fit better in the tight space, Casden wants giant transit agency Metro, whose core mission is supposed to be cutting congestion, to lend Casden some nearby public land that Metro owns. That controversial idea, vilified by several Westside activists, has not been approved.
To begin construction, Casden West L.A. needs approval from the Los Angeles City Council, which rarely says no to projects bearing the "transit-oriented" label.
But even there, it faces some opposition. District 5 City Councilman Paul Koretz, who represents the area, pans Casden West L.A. in an email to L.A. Weekly, saying, "We owe it to our communities to design a better project than this one." Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose 11th District to the west of the 405 could see more congestion from the project, also opposes it.
Planning Commission president Bill Roschen, appointed by Villaraigosa, is an avidly pro-density architect who lives in leafy Mount Washington, far from density or transit. Roschen designed Millennium Hollywood, the controversial proposed twin skyscrapers approved by the Planning Commission, which, if built, would dwarf the iconic Capitol Records building and open the way to a radical remake of the Hollywood skyline.
Critics say Roschen presided over a rush-job approval of Casden West L.A.
In February, the Planning Commission brushed off a load of unsolvable problems detailed in an Environmental Impact Report. The EIR says Casden West L.A. will create much more traffic, which would spill onto side streets and freeways and further lower air quality.
Roschen insists the plan is appropriate for a "transit-oriented development" and says he pushed through some compromises, reducing the square footage and moving the apartments more than 500 feet from the 405 freeway. As a result, its residents would live just outside the residential danger zone next to freeways, a 500-foot-wide strip in which, UCLA researchers have repeatedly warned the Villaraigosa administration, children suffer lifelong lung damage.
Planning staff says "overriding considerations" trump these problems.
Over 15 years, Casden West L.A. would generate perhaps $35.2 million in fees and taxes for city coffers and add 59 or more apartments for low-income seniors. But key aspects of City Hall's vision about how the project's residents will behave are purely speculation, particularly the claim that if enough residents take light rail or buses to work, it could "lower annual household driving rates from 20 to 40 percent, reduce air pollution and energy use, increase public safety, revitalize neighborhoods and decrease local infrastructure costs."
Underlying the arguments, a philosophical question nags: How badly does L.A. want to be a mass transit–oriented city?
James Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape, rejects suburbia as a failed idea and says L.A. residents and workers must learn to do without cars. "My guess is that the culture as a whole will have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the pedestrian-friendly future," he says.
Kunstler predicts a dark time, when fossil fuels run dry and cars become prohibitively expensive, after which suburbs such as the San Fernando Valley and its halo of cities will have less access to the rest of L.A.
Beth Steckler, deputy director of public transportation advocacy group Move L.A., thinks the region is past the kicking-and-screaming point, noting that voters countywide overwhelmingly approved Measure R in 2008, raising the sales tax by half a cent to funnel $40 billion into mass transit and freeway improvements.
"Are we late to the game? Yeah, but we're making great progress," Steckler says. "I think we're really at a turning point. I think a lot of people are feeling like we've reached the limits of a suburban, car-oriented model. ... There's a lot of people pushing us toward transit."
L.A. might be inching toward a mass-transit heyday, but Barbara Broide of the Westside Neighborhood Council says the Casden project isn't what her community's future should look like. She sees Casden West L.A. as a clear indicator that city leaders and planners are rushing thoughtlessly into a transportation revolution with unknown consequences, rather than embracing a deliberate evolution.Says Broide, "That's what I really resent, instead of our city doing this in a thoughtful way, that a developer can buy a chunk of land and take advantage of this new philosophy. We seem to be abandoning all common sense."
Katz argues that great developments come with problems but that this project lands on the plus side. "Not everyone can live in a perfect environment," says Katz, who lives in an idyllic, expensive hillside neighborhood of L.A. "Most of us don't."
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It would be interesting to watch if this could really happen, especially to see how it would affect Dallas employment news.
Annie | www.rpc.us.com
If they really want a transit-oriented development they would build car-free housing (where residents would be prohibied from owning a car as a condition of living there) as exists in a few other countries. Then we'll see if enough people would want to live there to justify building 17 stories.
Hey Dennis Romero, do you see how it's done? What a well written, well researched article! Take some notes from your colleague Mr. Lowery on what journalism is.
Of all the places in the world to live, who would actually choose to live at Pico/Sepulveda, 500 feet from the 405?!?!?
I skip that whole side of town. I don't 405 unless it is passed 9 pm or before 6 am... that shit id for the birds and the working class stiffs...
So we'll get the 405 upgrade and then cancel it out with this project.
The problem with the forcing people into mass transit idea is that the mass transit is quite weak.
If there were a subway to the sea and a subway or rail to the valley then there sure force them to us it - but real mass transit now sucks and will continue to suck so its hard not to see this project as a win only for the developer.
Gridlock in this area is already so intractable that the developer’s own EIR says, “Regarding traffic impacts of the Development Project, as disclosed in Section IV.N (Transportation/Traffic), the Development Project would result in significant and unavoidable impacts at 22 of the study intersections.
That’s all? Unavoidable impacts at 22 intersections? Nothing to look at here, folks, move along (if you can). With a simple wave of Planning Commission President Bill Roschen’s magic “overriding considerations” wand over the EIR, the traffic problems disappear in a puff of exhaust, and a gridlock-producing project is miraculously transformed into “smart growth.”
The Casden Sepulveda Project will make current gridlock at this juncture even worse than it is now. Trying to fit 1800 more people and cars in this small area, as well as retail shoppers anchored by a Target, just off the 405 Freeway is sheer insanity. The developer wishes to up-end the current zoning laws for this piece of land which is mixed-use with light industrial. The Planning Department and City Council want the revenue, but it will create a massive traffic disaster on the Westside. It will affect more than a million people from Beverly Hills to the beach and from the San Fernando Valley to west Los Angeles. This project must be stopped!
And here's another bit of propaganda:
"Beth Steckler, deputy director of public transportation advocacy group Move L.A., thinks the region is past the kicking-and-screaming point, noting that voters countywide overwhelmingly approved Measure R in 2008, raising the sales tax by half a cent to funnel $40 billion into mass transit and freeway improvements."
People voted for Measure R because they were deceived into believing that the subway would relief traffic congestion for them on the streets and freeways. By its own admission, the Subway to the Sea would reduce traffic congestion by less than 1%. Tell the voters they should tax themselves for $40 BILLION bond that will reduce traffic congestion by 1% and see how many people vote Yes. Whoever said that "Cheaters do not Prosper" had never seen LA's politicos in action.
Yes, people are kicking and screaming, and political stooges for the developers like Garcetti don't care. Garcetti will destroy every inch of LA in order to satisfy his Manhattanization Mania and the public be damned. Give Garcetti a chance and he and Casden will make LA look like Biff Tanen's casino in Back to the Future II http://bit.ly/17Y0F9c
Here's a dumb idea for which people continually fall:
"Kunstler predicts a dark time, when fossil fuels run dry and cars become prohibitively expensive, after which suburbs such as the San Fernando Valley and its halo of cities will have less access to the rest of L.A."
Every hour there are more and more electric cars on L.A.'s road. Cars are not dependent on fossil fuels. TOD's cause much of the congestion. They attract hordes are people to a very few locations and when hundreds of thousands of people try to get into the same place at the same time, that TRAFFIC DENSITY causes the problems. If they had never build Bunker Hill and had never built Century City and if Garcetti had left Hollywood alone, we would not have this traffic congestion.
All the transit oriented talk is propaganda, and by propaganda, I mean lies. People are easily deceived and Ken Alpert had his ears tightly shut and his mouth widely open as he scurried around going to meetings and writing articles doing the ground work for the Casden project. Now, Mr. Alpert sees for himself what he had steadfastly denied -- subways are shills for mega-density which destroys the city.
The fact that Transit Oriented Development is horrible for the City has been known for a century. In fact, 100 years ago, when civil engineers rather than political hacks like Garcetti, wrote community plans, they warned LA that TOD's -- dense developments along main arteries -- were a scam. http://bit.ly/cJh5BP 1915 Traffic Study p 38
At the same time, the City did the math for subways and showed why subways would soak the tax payers without providing a benefit. The subway covers about 5% of LA, and if you live on top of a subway station, you cannot reach 95% of LA. Thus, the idea that people who live on top of subways can use them is simply false. Also, the subways are slow, dirty, and dangerous. They are designed with a third world population in mind. The Hollywood Western station has not a single parking space -- why? Because the subway is not designed for wealthy people who live in Los Feliz, The Oaks, Hollywoodland, Beachwood Canyon. People can get downtown, which is one of the few places the subway goes, in 1/3 the time if they drive in air conditioned comfort chatting on their cell phones.
Many people promote subways not realizing that the sole purpose of subways is to justify extreme density which makes traffic congestion much worse. Then, the city hall can men say that their developer buddies need to be paid hundreds of billions of dollars to expanded the subways to relieve the traffic. Then they say that the subways cannot pay for themselves unless Casden or CIM Group or Hal Katersky or Juri Ripinski is paid hundreds of millions of dollars to construct mega-dense projects. Yes, subways bring not only mega-density but also felons like one of Garcetti's best buds, Juri Ripinski http://lat.ms/Y2P86s
@markw I wish we could do this - that would end about 90% of the complaints about putting housing in the most environmentally friendly spots, like this one. Unfortunately, I don't think it's possible for a housing developer to prevent car owners from living somewhere. The best they can do is have a fixed number of street parking permits in the district which are sold at auction, and build the housing with no off-street parking. I'm not sure what prevents the permit conversion of street parking.
@Jipali Mass transit doesn't actually suck - Los Angeles actually has one of the best bus systems in the country, and the Expo Line (which will have a stop right here) can take people straight into the heart of downtown and Santa Monica. Also, this area will have major bike lane connections both north-south (on Sepulveda) and east-west (with the Expo Line), if the neighbors don't block the Sepulveda bike lane.
The problem is if people choose to live in this location and then insist on driving to the Valley.
If you think that the Planning Commission is bad, wait until they get to court and the judge rules that "bad" means "good," and OK's the project. As they say, "You cannot have a corrupt city hall without a corrupt judiciary."
You don't have enough money to buy the courts. Just like the NFL Stadium, or Millennium or anything else the corrupt developers want. The public has no say.
But the public will then vote a tax increase so that Garcetti can give the tax dollars to the developers.
@scottzwartz If you insist on driving despite all the mass transit improvements, then of course you won't see a difference in congestion. When you have big streets like we do, and lots of people, nothing can possibly reduce congestion. The point of the transit infrastructure is that millions of people can get around without sitting in traffic, even though people who insist on continuing to use their cars still have to deal with it.
The Casden Sepulveda Project will make current gridlock at this juncture even worse than it is now. Trying to fit 1800 more residents with their cars in this small area just off the 405 Freeway is sheer insanity, not to mention shoppers at a huge retail center with a Target as its anchor. The developer wishes to up-end the current zoning laws for this piece of land which is mixed-use with light industrial. The Planning Department and City Council want the revenue, but it will create a massive traffic disaster on the Westside. It will affect more than a million people from Beverly Hills to the beach and from the San Fernando Valley to west Los Angeles. This project must be stopped!
@easwaran @scottzwartz I fear you are not correct. There really have been no "improvements." Today, for example, I had to go to the vets in Washington Park - no mass transit between Los Feliz and there. I had to get some stuff from Romage Hardware so I could walk as usual. Then I had to shop at Smart and Final. I suppose I could take a bus down Western, but there is no way I could have brought home all the stuff I bought - it filled the trunk of my car.
Mass transit lowers the standard of living - it is slow, dirty, and expensive. If I had tried to use mass transit, I could have made two trips to Smart and Final and that would have been it for the day. Then, I'd have to carry everything up the Hill. Because I drove, I had time to not only rest but also to take the dogs on three walks in the hills.
Rapid mass transit is an oxymoron. Subways work for narrow cities like Manhattan (2.5 x 11 mi) and for some smaller cities but mathematically they do not work in a large circular urban area. Unless, you wish to become an Urban Serf tied to the little plot of land where you live or work. I prefer to roam about the entire city.
In the article, Goldberg describes the inherent corruption that runs the LA City Council. The developers tell the council members like Garcetti what zoning they want and in return the zoning laws are changed.
While they cannot repeal the laws of economics and these projects go BK, there are always elected crooks to bail them out with tax dollars. That is why LA is functionally bankrupt. It is the same in LA as it is in Washington. In this new capitalist system, crooks make more money by having massive failures than building decent projects what will enhance the over all community.
Sad to say, you do not have the money to fight them. They use our tax dollars against us and the developers who call the shots not only hob nob with the judges, they are also billionaires. The last time a billionaire lost in a LA court, the judge was canned.
It is futile, but if you like paying Don Quixote, then add tons of urban planning research papers to the file and make certain that you have all the data from SCAG. They tend to lie about their data coming from the SCAG, but it turns out the data often does not exist or they cherry pick data from the wrong years. Thus, we have to add all the SCAG data, which is also absurdly pro-developer, and the US Census data. If you rely on the City you are screwed as it simplies lies about population and every thing else, and the judges believe every word of the BS -- of course, that's their job-- to make certain the 1% gets wealthier every day while everyone else gets poorer.
If we were to construct subways, it would cost about $6 Trillion. The moment they propose to construct a subway, the developers immediately propose more high-rises saying that we need to crowd that many more people into the areas 1/2 mile from the subway stations. The subway to the sea was to add the equivalent of about 125 linear miles of homes -- if the homes were side by side, they'd reach from Santa Monica to Las Vegas.
However, these homes would be cramped into massively dense mixed-use projects between Santa Monica and downtown LA.
As the demographic studies have shown for close to a century, Americans hate cramped apartments and a minimum of 80% want R-1 homes with yards. By building the CRA projects in the TOD's in Hollywood, Garcetti did not merely slow down Hollywood's growth but he accelerated the exodus by 400%. Almost every CRA project in Hollywood went BK. Hollywood-Highland which is on top of a subway lost $424 Million.
If you want to be an Urban Serf and have your life limited to 1/2 mile of subway stations, then you should live in a city where subways function, like Manhattan.
But for the massive corruption where Garcetti and other gave away about $1.5 BILLION, none of the CRA projects would have been built. If we had that $1.5 Billion, then we would not have to cut paramedics and we would not have the worst roads in the nation. In a nation of Crony Capitalism, business has become enthralled with looting the public treasury and not producing goods and services by the laws of supply and demand. Hollywood is a perfect example of this corrupt. Endless tax dollars flow into the developers' pocket while over 26,000 people flee Hollywood between 2005 and 2010 (HCP FEIR p3.1)
Please take the time to rad the 1915 Traffic Study and the demographic material and why California in general and Hollywood in particular are loosing people -- here's a hint. The mast majority of people hate density and move away as soon as they can afford to move.
@scottzwartz @easwaran Driving is clearly useful for some tasks, especially ones that involve carrying heavy objects. But by improving transit (which they definitely have), it means that we have options for all those other trips that don't require us to deal with congestion.
One problem is that up in the hills, it's almost impossible to get workable transit (or, indeed, workable roads) - everything has to wind around the hills, which adds a lot of distance and slows everything down, and cuts down on the amount of space available for cars, parking, and buses. I live probably a mile or two from you, near the Vermont and Sunset station, so I only have to deal with traffic on grocery shopping days and trips to the airport.
Everyone who will live in those new tall buildings Garcetti is approving in Hollywood will have the option of leading this kind of lifestyle (and they may even be able to avoid driving for groceries if they're close to Trader Joe's, or one of the others). Eventually, traffic congestion will only be a problem for the hill-dwellers - for everyone else it will be a choice.