Did L.A.'s African American Community Just Get Passed Over For a Metro Light Rail Stop?

Comments (0)


Fri, May 27, 2011 at 8:06 AM
click to enlarge metro_thumb_480x269_thumb_200x112.jpg

It would be like a "subway to the sea" that skips Westwood or Gold Line rail service that said no to an East L.A. Civic Center stop.

The proposal to have Metro's Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line stop in historic Leimert Park, the retail and cultural core of the African American community in L.A., is still "up in the air," in the words of L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' office.

The board of Metro actually said yes to a Leimert Park Village stop in a vote Thursday, but it refused to find the money for it.

Ridley-Thomas has been championing the stop, and even got old enemy (frenemy?) Bernard Parks of City Council district 8 to join a broad group of area leaders in support of the station.

click to enlarge crenshaw_lax_metro_map.JPG

There was even a Metro analysis that recently found $2 billion that could be used to build both the Leimert Park stop and an underground section of the light-rail line along Crenshaw Boulevard's Park Mesa Heights area that was shot down by the Metro board.

With hundreds of Leimert Park station supporters on-hand, the board voted to approve the stop, but only if it could be built as part of the line's $1.7 billion budget. The line is being built to connect the Westside-to-downtown Exposition Line with LAX.

"In a nutshell, the ball has been moved forward in favor of the station," Ridley-Thomas stated. "It's moved forward, but not nearly far enough. It's a victory with a small 'v.'"

Ridley-Thomas said he would continue to lobby for both the Leimert Park stop and the underground section.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has a strong influence on the Metro board and who has been championing the Westside "subway to the sea" that some say would have low ridership, was said to have been lukewarm on the Leimert Park stop.

(The board includes the mayor, the county supervisors, and other regional leaders).

Villaraigosa scored a huge victory in 2008 when county voters passed Measure R, a sales tax hike that is projected to bring $40 billion to regional transit. It's the core of L.A.'s light-rail expansion.

And Villaraigosa has been lobbying Washington for billions more to fast-track the subway to the sea. He wants it built in 10 years instead of as many as 30. That's a luxury option.

The battle over a station for black L.A.'s cultural core seemed to take regional sides at Thursday's meeting. Villaraigosa, an Eastside native, was elected largely with the help of the liberal Westside (and an African American constituency pissed off at then-Mayor James Hahn for replacing Bernard Parks as chief of the LAPD).

There's been a lot of cheddar to go around when it comes to building light rail in L.A., but as Eastside county Supervisor Gloria Molina argued, it hasn't always hit the Eastside and southwest L.A. as consistently.

She said the Eastside had to "settle for second best" when it came to its above-ground light rail Gold Line. She implied that other, more affluent areas haven't had to compromise as much.

"Let's be consistent in every community," she said.

Westside County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky argued that the board should be consistent and stay within its budget when building the Crenshaw/LAX line.


Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • 21st Annual Classic Cars "Cruise Night" in Glendale
    On Saturday, spectators of all ages were out in multitudes on a beautiful summer night in Glendale to celebrate the 21st annual Cruise Night. Brand Boulevard, one of the main streets through downtown Glendale, was closed to traffic and lined with over 250 classic, pre-1979 cars. There was plenty of food to be had and many of the businesses on Brand stayed open late for the festivities The evening ended with fireworks and a 50th anniversary concert from The Kingsmen, who performed their ultimate party hit, "Louie, Louie." All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.
  • La Brea Tar Pits "Pit 91" Re-Opening
    Starting June 28th, The Page Museum once again proudly unveils the museum's Observation Pit, which originally opened in 1952 but has spent most of the last half century closed. Now visitors can get an up-close look at Pit 91, which is currently under excavation. The La Brea Tar Pits, home of the Page Museum, is one of the world's most famous ice age fossil locations, known for range of fossils from saber-toothed cats and mammoths to microscopic plants, seeds and insects. The new "Excavator Tour" is free with museum admission if purchased online at tarpits.org . All photos by Nanette Gonzales.