West Hollywood seems likely to have made the cut in Metro’s plan for how it would use money from a proposed sales tax increase to expand L.A. County’s mass transit network.
According to The Source, a blog that covers transit in L.A. County, a proposed extension of Metro’s Crenshaw Line to connect with the Hollywood/Highland Red Line station in Hollywood is listed as a priority by two of Metro’s six sub-regions. The Crenshaw extension also is listed by Metro as one of its “shovel ready” projects. That gives West Hollywood officials hope that the Crenshaw extension will be on the list of projects to be tackled first that the MTA staff is expected to release at the end of this week.
The Crenshaw extension would be one of a more than a dozen likely Metro projects, including a station near Los Angeles International Airport at which passengers on Metro’s Crenshaw line could connect with a monorail that would deliver them to airline terminals. Among other possible projects are a rail line on Vermont Avenue, an extension of the Gold Line on the Eastside of Los Angeles and a rail line running through a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass that would link the San Fernando Valley and the Westside.
To finance the various projects, Metro’s board will have to agree to put on the November 2016 ballot a proposal that must get the support of two-thirds of voters. The proposal would extend for 20 years the half-cent sales tax increase that was part of Measure R, which voters approved in 2008. It has been projected to raise $40 billion over 30 years. The increase took effect in July 2009 and is set to expire in 2039. A little more than a third of its revenues are dedicated to new rail or bus rapid transit programs. The ballot proposal also would include an additional half-cent sales tax for at least 40 years, with half of the money generated likely to be allocated to each of Metro’s subregions by using a formula based on population and employment figures.
The challenge for West Hollywood is getting Metro to focus on a route for the Crenshaw extension that would best serve WeHo. Metro’s target budget for the extension assumes it will run from San Vicente and then along La Brea Avenue on WeHo’s eastern border to the Hollywood/Highland Red Line station for a total of six miles. But Fehr & Peers, a consultant hired by the city, has pulled together data to argue that running the extension from San Vicente to Santa Monica Boulevard for nine miles will better benefit the city and Metro. Other options considered by Metro are running the extension from San Vicente to Fairfax Avenue and on to the Hollywood/Highland Red Line station and ending the extension at the Wilshire/Vermont Red Line station.
According to Fehr & Peers’ Direct Ridership Forecast, an extension to the existing 8.5-mile long Crenshaw/LAX Line through West Hollywood could increase ridership by more than 300%. The Fehr & Peers study also notes that while the San Vicente/Santa Monica route is longer, it is closer to more office, service and entertainment jobs per mile (11,415), has more destinations with walking distance (38 per mile) and more low-wage workers employed along the route (3,825 per mile).
San Vicente to Santa Monica Boulevard route also includes some of the most regionally significant destinations among the three routes, including: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; West Hollywood Design District including the Pacific Design Center; West Hollywood Library and the soon to be constructed West Hollywood Aquatic and Recreation Center, renovated park and AIDS Monument; and the intersection of San Vicente to Santa Monica Boulevards, which is an important and meaningful location to the West Hollywood community:
The City of West Hollywood has gotten active in lobbying for that route. in December the City Council approved contracts with Dakota Communications and the Robert Group to create an outreach and advocacy campaign. The result is two coalitions, West Hollywood Advocates for Metro Rail (WHAM) and All on Board Coalition, which is a group of organizations and institutions along the existing Crenshaw Line and its proposed extension routes. The two organizations have been involved in producing advertising and other marketing materials to support the Crenshaw extension. All on Board has a field team whose members have gathered signatures at a broad range of events such as the Bilal Mosque Event, the Baptist Ministers Conference and the Kingdom Day/Leimert Park Festival.