By Bill Hendrickson
Some 150 residents and stakeholders of Eagle Rock jammed the town’s City Hall on Tuesday night to hear what Metro had to say about its plan to put bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes up and down Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock. The stretch along Colorado Boulevard would be one small part of a route connecting North Hollywood and Pasadena (NoHo-Pasadena).
Most of the people who spoke opposed Metro’s so-called “street-running route” on Colorado Boulevard, saying it would worsen traffic and parking, harm businesses and ruin the look and feel of Eagle Rock. Instead of a street-running route, they wanted Metro to run the BRT on the 134 freeway above Eagle Rock, with stops at both ends of town near the freeway on- and off-ramps.
Their opposition turned to dismay and anger when the representative from Metro, Scott Hartwell, said that “no options being studied involve bypassing Colorado Boulevard.” Hartwell was referring to a recent decision by the Metro Board to advance the plan for a street-running BRT route to the next stage, in which it will be the only plan to undergo a draft environmental review study.
Then, Hartwell really stunned the crowd, saying that Metro had favored the street-running route over a freeway option in part because it had found “broad community support” for putting the BRT lanes on Colorado Boulevard.
To be sure, a minority of the attendees at the Tuesday meeting were in favor of the BRT on Colorado Boulevard. They argued for supporting the BRT on environmental grounds and on generational grounds – saying that younger people are more open to taking the bus than their elders and less likely to have a car, let alone two. They also argued for the BRT on equity grounds, saying that the generally lower-income people who use the bus would surely like a faster, cleaner BRT, but probably couldn’t attend the meeting to advocate on their own behalf because of long hours they spend on the bus getting to and from work and home and school.
But supporters of the plan were far outnumbered by opponents, many of whom said they felt bamboozled by the process.
“Broad Community Support?”
So, where did Metro get the idea that Eagle Rockers support BRT lanes on Colorado Boulevard?
At the meeting on Tuesday night, Hartwell said that Metro’s claim of “broad community support” was based in part on the results of a public meeting that Metro held on the BRT at the Eagle Rock Plaza on Saturday afternoon, October 13, 2018.
And yet, Metro’s own data (See page 25) show that only 38 people attended the meeting at the Eagle Rock Plaza – and their feedback consisted of 11 comment cards, 24 public speaker comments and 70 “Roll Plot” comments, which are post-it notes stuck to maps of the proposed routes.
Another show of support that Metro might point to came in 2016 when Metro was in the early stages of planning for the NoHo-Pasadena BRT. A presentation that Metro made to the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council indicated that the proposed BRT would either go down Colorado Boulevard or skip Eagle Rock entirely as it traveled the freeway from Glendale to Pasadena. Based on that information, the ERNC sent a letter to Metro, expressing support for BRT lanes and stops on Colorado Boulevard. But the information that the ERNC was operating on did not take into account the possibility of a freeway-running BRT with stops on either end of Eagle Rock. As a result, the support expressed back then hardly seems relevant today.
So, can anything be done?
The upshot of the meeting on Tuesday evening was this:
Public comments are still being accepted on the proposal to put BRT lanes down Colorado Boulevard and those comments will be included in the environmental review study. But if you want to comment – for or against – you have to act soon. The public comment period opened on Monday, June 17 and closes on Wednesday, July 31. You can submit a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Metro at 213.418.3228.
Metro will also hold a community meeting on the BRT street-running route on Saturday, July 13 at the Eagle Rock Plaza, Suite #236, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. At the meeting, you can submit public comment for the record.
Will speaking up now make any difference to the outcome?
The fact that the Metro Board has authorized an environmental review of the BRT street- running option gives that route a leg up over alternatives that would use the 134 freeway.
But the Metro Board is made up of elected officials who can call for changes to the Metro plan. The NELA politicians on the Metro Board are L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis.
For opponents of the plan, it would have been better if NELA’s elected officials had engaged the issue earlier. The Mayor of Pasadena, for example, objected to Metro’s proposal for BRT-only lanes on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena between the Gold Line and Pasadena City College – and got the lanes removed from the plan before it advanced to the environmental review stage. Still, better now than never for Eagle Rockers to weigh in with their elected officials. You can reach Garcetti here and Solis here.
As for working through Eagle Rock’s Councilmember José Huizar, a representative from his office at the meeting on Tuesday said that Huizar had “no opinion” on the issue and was waiting for the environmental study review. Be that as it may, it can’t hurt to let him know your opinion.
Before and during the Tuesday night meeting, community residents who oppose the plan began organizing. Cherryl Weaver, Spokesperson for the Better BRT Group, has accumulated 300 signatures on an online petition at eaglerock411.com. The petition states the case for putting the BRT on the 134 freeway. Another attendee at the Tuesday meeting started a petition then and there to present to the Metro Board.
Clearly, the community is at the outset of a fight. But you could also look at Tuesday’s meeting as a first step toward a solution that works in the best interests of Eagle Rock.
Bill Hendrickson, MBA, publisher of the Boulevard Sentinel, has extensive small business management, marketing and sales experience in corporate finance and real estate development and plays a not terrible game of golf.
6 thoughts on “Latest Moves, Next Steps in the Battle over Buses on Colorado Boulevard”
Thank you, Mr. Hendrickson, for your incisive, detailed and urgent article about the progress of the BRT through Eagle Rock. As always, the work at the Sentinel gives us a clear-sighted view of what’s happening and some tools to work our way forward. Most all of the Eagle Rock residents I’ve spoken with have real concerns about this project and the apparent determination of our elected leaders to commit us to accepting it without learning of any specifics. There isn’t a single person I’ve met who is opposed to mass transit, and yet every person who has stood up with a desire to preserve any part of Colorado Boulevard as it is – parking, having more than a single lane of traffic, keeping the median and the ability to make left turns – anything, is accused of NIMBYism and being anti-environmental. Everyone in town I’ve discussed this with seems to actually be on the same side – we all like our town, all want safety, appreciate clean air, affordable and responsible mass transit, less speeding on the streets, nobody hates the survival of small businesses, nobody is opposed to trees – and yet because of how this was presented, it’s a mess. You’ve cast a light. Thanks.
Excellent article, Mr. Hendrickson. I agree with Mark Arnott. I am one of the people who spoke on Tuesday night and I think I speak for many of us when I say we were absolutely shocked by Metro’s claims of “overwhelming support” from local businesses. I personally have spoken to about 20 business owners around Townsend and Colorado and not a SINGLE ONE was in favor of the BRT running along Colorado. As it is, two cars can’t even approach each other on Townsend without one pulling over to yield. Parking around there is extremely scarce and to lose even a few spots would be devastating to stores with no parking lots. And, not a single business had been consulted by Metro.
As far as I know, the only outreach Metro has ever done was mailing out fliers far too late, after the 134 option was already removed from the impending EIR. Now we’re being steam rolled and we won’t go quietly.
Please go to eaglerock411.com, sign the petition, and write to everyone on the Metro board! Write, email, call and be sure to submit comments often on the Metro comment portal. And be at the scoping meeting on Saturday, July 13th!
I was at that absurd meeting. The extremely rude residents made their opinions known, while more polite people like myself left in disgust without expressing SUPPORT for this BRT. The meeting was an embarrassing display of angry, old (mostly) white people who believe their opinions are the only thing that matters in Eagle Rock. Progress for mass transportation and the city of Los Angeles, or sympathy for people who might dare to ride a bus, was in short supply.
At least this article does mention that there was support for the BRT in the room, but if this website / monthly publication wants to actually represent the views of the neighborhood you should probably spend some time talking to ALL of the residents of Eagle Rock. And by that, I mean the ones that don’t look or think like you.
Eagle rock is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city of Los Angeles. According to the LA Times’ round up of neighborhood demographics we are 40% Latino, 30% White, 24% Asian, 2% Black and 4% Other. Did that meeting represent that diversity? No it did not… I was there — and the photo helpfully shows the lack of diversity.
Not all residents of Eagle Rock can come out to a meeting on Tuesday night to yell pointlessly at Metro employees, who are doing their job and don’t deserve the disrespect the angry mob in that room showed them. When you believe “everyone I know” shares the same opinion, you should realize you need to seek out more people — because I emphatically don’t agree with your opinion, and I know many other like minded Eagle Rock residents. But, critically, I realize there are people that disagree with me — and I’m willing to hear rational, informed criticism of Metro’s plans.
But none of that was present on Tuesday night. Nor in this article, or the two other published comments here. (I wonder if my comment will actually be posted?)
There is no plan on how this will impact Colorado, because the street level designs are not complete. Will we lose a lane of traffic? NO ONE KNOWS! Will we lose traffic spots? NO ONE KNOWS!! Will it take part of the median? NO ONE KNOWS!!!
If these — or any other items — are your concerns, then express them on the Metro.net website. This is why they are asking the community for feedback. But you might miss that through all the vitriol and rumor mongering present in this paper and in the old, white, enclaves of Eagle Rock.
Life in a big city is complicated. Not everyone will agree on a myriad of topics — but I can only hope that people start respecting one another, and realize that you are not the only person in this neighborhood. Oh — and watch out, you won’t believe what the next 40 years of Los Angeles development will bring to this neighborhood. You can’t stop progress by whining. But you might influence it if you know how to listen and advocate for your point of view in a respectful manner.
The notion that a BRT line should run down Colorado Blvd, through downtown Eagle Rock, instead of on the 134 Freeway seems to defeat its very purpose…the purpose is to help commuters reach Pasadena and North Hollywood in a RAPID manner.
As in any major city with public mass transportation (ie: New York, London, Tokyo) the fast trains and buses bypass many local stops in order for commuters to reach their destination community faster…then upon reaching a destination community they transfer to a local line. This helps more riders reach further destinations faster.
I would LOVE to take a rapid transit line from North Hollywood to Pasadena, but how much time would really be saved if you have to stop at local stops, or even ride down surface streets with stop lights and lower speed limits. The goal should be to help riders access their destinations faster. Fewer, strategic stops, just off of the freeways, where local buses could then pick up the next leg of the journey, would increase the speed of a trip and the likelihood that I would take the bus and not call an Uber, or just drive.
IF rapid transit really is the goal (and not a back door to massive high density development, which is often approved where certain types of mass transit are available), then the logical choice is to create a NoHo/Pas BRT line that bypasses downtown Eagle Rock and instead uses the 134 Freeway.
A well-reasoned and clear response, LoMa, thank you for putting it out. Most of the conversations we’ve had on this topic jump pretty quickly to name-calling and righteous indignation. This process will need some reasonable thought. I hope you can make it to Eagle Rock Plaza this Saturday. One central problem with the Metro plan was that it was put together with little input from the people who will be affected by this project. I hope to see you there.
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