Sunday, May 12, 2013

TOD in Los Angeles: A New Wave of Thinking or Auto Oriented Development?

             Casden West Los Angeles is a proposed large-scale transit-oriented development (TOD) to be constructed near the planned Expo Line in the heart of West Los Angeles. The first of it’s kind for Los Angeles. This TOD project plans to add 638 luxury apartment units at the intersection of Pico Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard. When constructed, Casden West will top out at 17 floors, with six subterranean floors for 1,800 parking spaces. In addition to residential units, the Casden West project will feature mixed-use retail anchored by a Target store.[2]

The proposed Casden West project viewed from the planned Expo Line station

            Given the site’s close proximity to the Interstate 405 and Interstate 10 interchange along with limited thoroughfares connecting Los Angeles with Santa Monica, this zone of West Los Angeles is notorious for congestion. The Casden West project would offer a tangent from traditional auto-centric land use design, becoming an iconic TOD project.[2] Central to the TOD concept is the planned Expo Line Sepulveda station, which will be constructed adjacent to the Casden West development.

Expo Line from Los Angeles to Santa Monica; Phases One and Two

            The Expo Line Phase Two, which will extend from Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica, is expected to open in 2016.[5] Other TOD features of the Casden West Project include:

  • A full-service “transit concierge” desk to aid residents and travelers navigating the Expo Line and nearby bus stops
  • Convenient access to the nearby Big Blue Bus 4,7, and Rapid 7 lines
  • 144 bike parking spaces
  • Free Metro passes for Casden West residents[3] 

            Opposition claims that the Casden development is ripe for a “Bermuda Triangle” of congestion. With the addition of “1,800 more vehicles in such a small area, paired with the retail shopping anchored by a Target just off the 405 freeway is insanity.”[1] Others, like Ken Alpern, president of the Transit Coalition, which advocates mass transit and TOD argues that "this is simply overdevelopment, and they're using the line that 'this is affordable housing and transit oriented' so that this passes."[1]

            Supporters for the new development disagree with both claims stating the congestion is simply speculation at this point since neither the line, nor the development has come to fruition yet. And what opponents see as a hurdle, advocates tout as a blessing recognizing that “the Expo Line provides an unprecedented opportunity to bring a quality mixed-use project to West Los Angeles.” [2] Also adding that when finished, the Expo Line will take residents straight into the heart of downtown Los Angeles or to the other end of the route into Santa Monica. Most see this as a method to relieve traffic congestion rather than increase it.

            Also beneficial is the number of dollars in jobs Los Angeles will see. A fiscal impact report shows over 1,600 construction jobs and 695 annual permit jobs when the development is in full swing. Also a plus is “the project could generate more than $35 million in city revenue.”[4] Bill Roschen, Planning Commission President feels like it "is going to turn out to be an exemplary TOD project."[3]

[1] Will the Casden Development Be L.A.'s Bermuda Triangle of Traffic?
[2] Expo/Sepulveda Station Mixed-Use Development
[3] Expo-Adjacent Sepulveda/Pico Mixed-User Will Have 1,795 Parking Spaces, Transit Concierge
[4] Casden West L.A. Still Touts Devotion to City's Mass Transit Movement
[5] BuildExpo

1 comment:

  1. There has been a lot of controversy in the Los Angeles area especially amoung transit supporters about development along rail lines. While many look forward to true transit oriented development many have been dissapointed by what they see as Transit Adjacent Development instead. While it might be next to the rail line, developments are still too focused on the automobile and not create complexes that truly cater to transit users.

    This creates a catch-22 situation for many developers because they want attract main stream retailers who will want parking since most of their customers will still use the automobile.

    However, I feel that this development is different because they are adding ammenties that will cater to transit users and by providing passes will also encourage the use of the Expo Line. While it may not be perfect, it is a step on the right direction and balance between creating a development that starts to create an atmosphere of using transit and walking communities but still live in the reality that most people still need automobiles and you need to attract quality tenants to a development.


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