Friday, August 20, 2010

East Hollywood Connects Community via Route 66

CityWatch, Aug 20, 2010
Vol 8 Issue 66

The Route 66 legacy of connectivity continues to resonate in East Hollywood, bringing the community together in a street revitalization campaign initiated by the neighborhood council and involving the Metro, City Hall, local businesses, residents and transit passengers.

LA's Santa Monica Boulevard section of Route 66 had long ago fallen victim to multi-jurisdictional oversight that resulted in CHP, the Sheriff's Department and the LAPD sharing law enforcement authority. Caltrans and the City of LA share responsibility for maintenance while the Metro and the City of LA share authority over the transit activity, street furniture, and bus stops. Local advocates, from property owners to pedestrians, have long complained of conflict and congestion, yet the process for pursuing solutions typically frustrated even the hardiest of community members.

All that changed when the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council turned a crisis on the streets into an opportunity for the rebirth of Route 66.

The Metro's Duane Martin and Councilman Eric Garcetti's Transportation Deputy Marcel Porras joined forces and committed to supporting the neighborhood council's newly formed Transit Task Force and their mandate of supporting transit as a tool for improving the quality of life for everybody.

Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition joined forces and offered insight in navigating the bureaucratic maze, one that involves the State, the County, the City, and then departments ranging from Transportation to Public Works to Planning to the LAPD to Cultural Affairs.

Throw in the LAUSD and it became apparent, one really does need a guide if they intend to cross the street.

EHNC President David Bell moved from a problem solving paradigm and embraced an aspirational approach, implementing a connectivity strategy that embraces the rich history of Route 66.

The EHNC Transit Task Force includes Historic Preservation experts, Homeless and Social Service advocates, Arts and Culture representatives, along with members of the neighborhood council's Beautification, Public Safety and Transportation committees.

This unique approach to problem solving starts with a commitment to creating an environment that is inspirational and aspirational, focusing on a goal that has a residual impact of addressing the specific problems that initially prompted a local business owner to cross the street, attending a neighborhood council meeting and asking for help.

This is just the beginning but every great journey starts with a single step and the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council's Transit Task Force is that step, this time setting in motion another Route 66 adventure that has the capacity to transform a community.

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at Disclosure: Box is also a candidate for 4th District Councilman.)

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