By K. D. Dunleavy
The Time for the Community to
Weigh In Is Now
Update: The Meeting date for the community to talk over the Metro busing plan has been changed. The new date time and place are: Tuesday, June 18th at 7 p.m. at Eagle Rock City Hall.
What this is about: The Metro Board of Directors recently advanced a plan that would put bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock.
Under the plan, the Colorado Boulevard corridor would be one segment of an 18-mile BRT line connecting North Hollywood and Pasadena (NoHo-Pasadena). Various routes were considered for the line, including one that would use the 134 Freeway to traverse Eagle Rock, thus bypassing Colorado Boulevard. But Metro staff determined that a route along surface streets would attract more riders and provide better connections than a freeway-based route. The Metro Board accepted the staff’s finding and on May 23, voted to begin a draft environmental review of the street-running route.
The Board’s vote gives the street-running route a leg up over possible alternative routes. But that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. “Although the Metro staff has made an initial recommendation to put the bus on Colorado Boulevard, this is far from being a done deal,” said Brian Haas, a spokesperson for Metro, in an interview with the Boulevard Sentinel. “Community feedback is a huge part of this,” he said. “We want to make sure that what we do makes sense.”
That flexibility will come in handy, because judging from the reaction on social media, Eagle Rockers don’t see much sense in putting a BRT line on Colorado Boulevard.
Here are some of the concerns:
A BRT line on Colorado Boulevard would require reconfigurations to allow for dedicated bus lanes. Metro has not specified what that would mean, but it could include removing the boulevard’s medians, removing traffic or bike lanes, removing parking spaces or some combination of those things.
And for what? The vast majority of BRT riders would not be coming or going from Eagle Rock. The vast majority would just be passing through. Looked at that way, the disruption from the BRT in terms of driving, traffic and parking on Colorado Boulevard seems far greater than the benefits to the town.
Another concern is that the BRT line on Colorado Boulevard could change zoning rules in areas near the bus stops. One of the Metro’s stated objectives with the NoHo-Pasadena line is to “support…transit-oriented community goals.” Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) is a city program that lets developers build more and denser housing on multi-family lots near a major transit stop, as long as the project includes some affordable units for low income people. With proposed BRT stops at Eagle Rock Boulevard and Townsend Avenue, a swath of Eagle Rock would fall under TOC rules. More housing to ease the housing shortage is badly needed. But putting a BRT line on Colorado Boulevard seems like an opaque and convoluted way to go about getting it.
Metro has made some good arguments for a NoHo-Pasadena BRT. The area it would cover is heavily traveled, with almost all of the trips by car and only a tiny fraction by public transit, despite having Metro rail connections at both ends. A premium bus service would provide an alternative to driving and connect Metro’s regional transit network to residential areas along the route.
But Metro has yet to make a good case for why the proposed BRT has to run the length of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock instead of catching the 134 freeway. One community meeting on the topic, at the Eagle Rock Plaza on October 18, 2018 was only sparsely attended.
Another community meeting will take place on June 18 at the Eagle Rock City Hall, where the Land Use Committee of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC) will host a representative from Metro to discuss the project.
Metro also plans “Public Scoping” meetings beginning in July, which are required by law to give the public a chance to learn more about the proposal and provide input on issues that policymakers should consider in the environmental review. The Boulevard Sentinel will keep you informed of dates, times and places as they become available.