Monday, March 29, 2010

CityWatchLA - Metro Betrays Community

CityWatch, Mar 30, 2010
Vol 8 Issue 25

Metro Bikes at Hollywood and Western promised to serve the cycling community of Hollywood by offering bike storage and minor bike maintenance support, all as part of the Metro's multi-modal commitment to a robust and comprehensive Transportation System. Instead, it betrayed the community and demonstrated the need for a swift and thorough reorganization of LA County's regional transportation authority, the Metro.  It has been years since the Metro offered up its Hollywood & Western Red Line station property for development by the CRA which then brought in McCormack Baron to build the Metro Hollywood low-income housing and retail Transit Oriented Development (TOD) known as Metro Hollywood.

The Metro negotiated a "community benefit" component into the TOD project, the City of Los Angeles offered up the services of its General Services and Transportation Departments and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) signed on as the operator of Metro Bikes. What could go wrong?

Apparently, everything.

Several years later, the property is still empty, save for the occasional transient tenant such as the census workers who recently used it for training or the homeless who favor the comforts of the patio area.

When negotiated, the property had an estimated rental value of $3 per foot. Quite a score for the "negotiator" if only the Metro's Real Estate, Operations, Planning, Rail, Security and TDM departments could get it together and figure out who was in charge and who was accountable.

Adding to the confusion, the CRA and the City were all Metro Bikes partners when it sounded like a successful venture but when the project fizzled, nobody was in charge.

Somewhere along the way, calls to the property manager started getting referred to City Council President Eric Garcetti who had become the de facto "boss" of the two empty storefront locations on the west side of the TOD. This new relationship was confirmed in last year's CD11 press release that announced new plans for the Metro Bike operation.

Still, we wait.

The promise has been broken, the checks have been cashed, the money has been spent, the equipment has been delivered, the equipment is now gone, and the partners have all scattered.

It is imperative that the Metro demonstrate a commitment to "connectivity" that starts within the Metro organization, not in our communities. There is no chance that the Metro can connect the people of LA with a comprehensive and robust Transportation System if it can't even connect the many Metro departments within the One Gateway tower.

It is also imperative that the Metro develop oversight and accountability mechanisms so that the plans and standards that are promised to the community become a reality, not just another casualty to the Metro's silo battles.

(Stephen Box is a transportation and cycling advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at

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