By T.A. Hendrickson
Metro will hold a public “scoping” meeting in Eagle Rock on Saturday, July 13 on its plan for a bus rapid transit (BRT) route from North Hollywood to Pasadena (NoHo-Pasadena), including a corridor along Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock.
The meeting will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Eagle Rock Plaza.
The purpose of the meeting is to give the public a chance to learn more about the plan and provide input for the record on issues that policymakers should analyze in the upcoming environmental impact review of the project.
Practical issues for Eagle Rockers include the BRT route, dedicated bus lanes, location of stops and the potential for multi-family real estate development near the BRT stops.
For starters, here are four questions we would like Metro to address at the meeting and in the draft environmental impact review:
Q: Will Metro study an alternative route for Eagle Rock in which the BRT uses the 134 Freeway with stops near the freeway on-and-off ramps, rather than using Colorado Boulevard?
Metro has made a good case for a NoHo-Pasadena BRT, pointing out that it would provide an alternative to driving on a heavily congested route and connect to Metro rail service at both ends of the line, thus facilitating greater use of public transit.
But Metro has yet to make a good case for why the BRT should run on Colorado in Eagle Rock with stops along the boulevard, instead of catching the 134 freeway with stops at both ends of town.
The Metro data that is available indicates that a street route would pick up more riders, but would be slower and more expensive than a freeway route.
To complicate matters, Metro has sent mixed signals about its willingness to consider a freeway route for Eagle Rock. In May, when the Metro Board advanced the plan for a route along Colorado Boulevard, a spokesperson for Metro told the Boulevard Sentinel that the route was “far from being a done deal,” adding that “community feedback is a huge part of this.” But at a meeting with residents at the Eagle Rock City Hall on June 18 , another Metro spokesperson said that “no options being studied involve bypassing Colorado Boulevard.”
Many participants at the June 18 meeting protested the lack of compare-and-contrast designs and other specifics that would allow for an informed choice between a street route and a freeway route in Eagle Rock. Metro could clear up confusion and meet public demand for information by studying a freeway option for Eagle Rock in addition to a Colorado Boulevard route.
Q: Why does Metro want a Colorado Boulevard route in Eagle Rock, but remains open to freeway routes in Glendale and Pasadena?
Metro’s map of the NoHo-Pasadena BRT shows that Metro has opted for a route along the 134 Freeway for a stretch in North Hollywood and is still undecided on whether to use the 134 Freeway through most of Glendale and part of Pasadena. The same map indicates that a route on the 134 Freeway is not under consideration for Eagle Rock.
Metro has said it will study two different ways to put the BRT on Colorado Boulevard. One way would be to put in dedicated BRT lanes that would potentially impact parking, traffic, the medians, bike lanes or some combination of those features. Another way would be have the BRT travel down Colorado Boulevard in regular traffic, which would be less disruptive to the boulevard but make for a slower NoHo-Pasadena ride.
The upshot is that Metro is open to studying freeway options for North Hollywood, Glendale and Pasadena and will study various ways to put the BRT on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock. So, why not study the freeway option for Eagle Rock as well?
Q: Will BRT stops on Colorado Boulevard open the door to more and bigger multi-family housing development in Eagle Rock?
A stated goal of Metro is to foster the creation of transit-oriented communities, or TOCs, which are multi-family housing developments near major transit stops. Under TOC rules put in place by the city in 2017, a developer who builds within half a mile of a transit stop can build larger, denser buildings than current zoning would allow, as long as the land is already zoned for at least five units and the project includes some affordable units for lower income people.
A glance at the zoning maps for Eagle Rock suggests that much of Colorado Boulevard and some of the areas south of Colorado could fall under TOC rules.
Eagle Rockers need more information from Metro in order to understand how its proposed BRT stops on Colorado Boulevard could affect TOC development in Eagle Rock . For example, multi-family housing development that increases the population might be good for some businesses, but not for others. Development would also alter the look and feel of the boulevard, perhaps for good, perhaps not.
Q: In its draft environmental impact review, will Metro analyze the potential impact of TOC developments along the NoHo-Pasadena BRT?
Metro has stated that its “vision to create transit oriented communities (TOCs)” is “at the forefront” of its overall transit efforts. That being the case, Metro owes it to the public to show how the BRT will advance TOCs.
Another reason that the BRT study should include an analysis of the potential for TOCs along the NoHo-Passadena route is that multi-family and affordable-housing development – which is badly needed – generally faces strong opposition. The opposition is even greater if housing development is concentrated in some communities and not in others. A Metro study of potential TOCs on the BRT line will show whether all communities are being asked to pull an oar for affordable housing, or not.
See you at the meeting on Saturday, July 13, at 1 p.m. at the Eagle Rock Plaza.