Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rail-roaded into paving open spaces?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Developers Laugh While Rail and Park Advocates Fight

L.A.Times Columnist Pits Light Rail Advocates Against Open Space Protectors;

We Can Have Both.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/bottleneck/2007/01/steves_cheviot_.html#comments

(NOTE: Steve Lopez's column on !/28/2007 attacked folks who want to preserve open space because they want the second phase of the Exposition light rail project to run along the noisy Venice and Sepulveda Blvds., instead of through the only remaining open space in a quiet neighborhood. Rather than blame big oil companies for wrecking L.A.'s Pacific Electric rail system in the 1950's, Lopez pitted the average folks of L.A. against each other.)

Here's our view on this:

The issue here is about a choice between putting the Expo rail on two wide and noisy streets (Venice and Sepulveda that could actually encourage existing drivers on those streets to take the rail and not drive), ---or putting the rail on a vacant, green strip in a quiet neighborhood that could just as well become a park and community gardens. But no, instead of supporting the first route I mentioned, you want to waste a lot of energy bashing on residents of Cheviot Hills. In the end, we will get a rail from downtown to the sea. For the record, I don't live anywhere near Cheviot Hills; I live in Westchester next to the freeway, so I get loud traffic noise 24 hours a day from the freeway on the north and from booming jets at LAX on the south. I have sympathy for residents along the Gold line who hear the train horns around the clock. Maybe those on this blog who have been aroused to want to lynch the leaders of residents groups in Cheviot Hills don't live next to the noisy project they are supporting. This is the essence of the hypocricy behind the use of the phrase NIMBY.

What's most important, in my mind, beyond fixing the traffic mess and cleaning up the Bay, is that we need to preserve unpaved open spaces in this concrete monstropolis any way that we can. When there is an alternative to a huge public works project that will save open space and still solve a public need, than we are fools if we don't try to do both. We can have a superb public rail system here again; we can also create and preserve open spaces in this sea of concrete. But when we resort to NIMBY name-calling, we are using the language of the developers and the despoilers of this great city to divide, a propaganda trick that has led to the mess we are in today.

I take issue with Lopez's claim that "There's no preexisting railroad right of way along Venice Blvd." Of course there is! That's why Venice is so wide and why the sidewalks and parkways are so wide: because there used to be a rail line running down the middle. Of course, there's enough room to put a light rail there, and we do own the land!

If we really want to lessen the traffic mess at Century City, the rail line needs to be IN Century City. For example, Santa Monica Blvd. used to have a rail line on it and it forms the north border of Century City. On the other hand, the expo line is quite a ways away from this dense area.

I'm really tired of journalists attacking neighborhoods as being selfish NIMBY's. I'll bet you don't live next to the Expo line. When journalists try to emphasize conflict in stories on land use issues, why is it usually framed as pitting middle class neighborhoods against poor people? L.A.'s transit crisis was not created by the folks in Cheviot Hills. Let's put blame where it belongs:on selfish, developer-driven City Councils and on the car, oil and tire corporations that wiped out L.A. 's Pacific Electric Railway system. Here, the super-rich got us into a big mess, and yet, you're trying to pit the rest of us against each other. Many of the problems in this country are caused by the selfish top 2% corporate elite that get away with (figuratively) murder, while their corporate media tries to stir up everyone else to fight each other over straw-man issues. Can't find an affordable home? Blame existing residents, or blame the developers that only build luxury homes. Tired of high gas prices? Blame selfish air-breathing environmentalists for demanding clean air, or blame the oil companies and their political buddies that have squelched alternate fuels research. Steve Lopez's article pointed his finger at all but the real culprit for L.A.'s traffic messes.

Lastly, The L.A times has supported every major development in this City's history. The Times helped to create this problem. What's the Times going to do to fix it? Open your own wallet and help out! Don't blame the average folks for a mess created by the corporate elite.

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