West Hollywood City Council's Big Dreams of Subway-Oriented Development Goes Down in Flames, Traffic Destined to be a Nightmare

When the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shot down a subway route through West Hollywood a few weeks ago, it probably shook up no group of people harder than West Hollywood City Council members John Heilman, Abbe Land, Lindsey Horvath, Jeff Prang, and John Duran, especially Heilman, Land, and Horvath, who are up for re-election in 2011.

As former West Hollywood City Councilman Steve Martin points out in his column at WeHo News, in one of the worst and wacky urban planning decisions made by local politicians, the City Council counted on a subway with no official route and no official groundbreaking date to ease traffic congestion when they approved high density redevelopment projects in already gridlocked neighborhoods.

The City Council's big dreams of subway-oriented development went horribly sideways on them, but residents are still going to have to deal with nightmare traffic that's only going to get worse once various projects get built.

A prime example of a nightmare-in-waiting is the 10-story Movietown Plaza near the Target/Best Buy shopping center on La Brea Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

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Traffic is already gnarly around that intersection, and a 10-story, mixed-use project of housing and shops is only going to add to the congestion.

But the regular, and very public, line we often heard from City Council members during the approval process for Movietown and other high density projects was that a subway down Santa Monica Boulevard would relieve traffic problems ... even though the MTA has subsequently published an environmental impact report finding that the rail line will get less than one percent of drivers out of their cars.

West Hollywood's subway fiasco begs numerous questions, which may be brought up in the coming election season by challenging candidates Mito Aviles and John D'Amico.

Did Heilman, Land, Horvath, and crew really think a subway route through West Hollywood was possible? Even though the MTA had never shown much interest in making that reality?

Why did the City Council jump the gun and approve things before the official subway route was announced? Before the EIR was published? Before all of the facts were in?

What are Heilman, Land, Horvath, and crew going to do now to mitigate the traffic nightmare they've caused by approving projects before the subway was approved?

The questions are endless, but will they ever be answered?

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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