Yes on M: Transit is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Here's a grateful shoutout to ULI Los Angeles.

As usual, at today's ULI Los Angeles Planning for Transit conference, I learned something new. Thanks to the panel featuring Ann Sewill of the California Community Foundation I am wiser about a 1980s era group called Not Yet New York.

Grâce à Sewill's riff near the close of the session, and Wikipedia, I now know the NIMBY parent of the illegitimate Neighborhood Integrity Initiative (NII).

You gotta love the NIMBYs' creativity when it comes to naming these misleading initiatives and their "independent" political organizations. But wouldn't you think that with Asia and the Gulf States building to the moon, they would rather pick on a city even more horrible than New York?

Come on NIMBYs! Do I hear Dubai or Shanghai, anyone?

In the 1980s, it was perennially grumpy Angeleno Laura Lake who was waving the NIMBY flag evoking terrifying images of Manhattan's canyon's of steel. Her goal and the goal of Proposition U, now mostly forgotten, "to slow the growth of the city, and preserve open space and low density."

Sound familiar?

Fortunately, New York's got a thick skin and couldn't care less what Lake and her children at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the group spearheading the NII, have to say about it. Gotham, as everyone knows, cares about the L.A. NIMBYs' hating on New York about as much as it does the drunken Boston fans at Fenway shouting, "Yankees Suck."

Meh.

Neighborhood Integrity Initiative?

Fuhgeddaboudit!

I live in Koreatown where the streets are paved with trash, a fitting metaphor for the so-called Neighborhood Integrity Initiative's backers' efforts to halt the way transit-oriented housing and mixed use developments get built in this city.

In contrast, in New York the streets are paved with gold.

With the March election following close on the heels of November's Battle Royale, it won't be long before my street is littered with NII's campaign pulp alongside the Korean- and Spanish-language ads for cheap credit and car insurance.

That anyone would buy the canard that surface parking lots add greater value to our community than housing near trains and buses begs credulity.

But then, what do I know? I'm a New Yorker and an Angeleno by choice, who can't believe the City's able electeds aren't able to provide the most basic of city services, clean streets and sidewalks.

Thanks to the City's at best benign neglect of our streets, sidewalks and empty lots, we are hampered in our ability to appreciate an L.A. that is finally embracing density, transit, active transportation and walkability. Just as we are finally finding a third way, as Christopher Hawthorne of the Los Angeles Times describes it, instead of taking steps to help L.A. take flight, along comes the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.

NII says to the citizenry that we can't be an aspirational city that embraces sensible density around rail and bus lines.

Reading no growth ballot language like the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative and Measure LV, which would crush needed affordable housing construction and transit-oriented development in Los Angeles and Santa Monica respectively, I want to scream. Or leave work early and take the Expo Line to the beach.

In November, L.A. County voters get a chance to vote YES on Measure M, which would deliver a powerful shot in the arm to public transportation throughout the County, and Santa Monica residents get a chance to vote against a NIMBY ruse that would cap transit-oriented development.

Then in March we get to vote again to kill the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative.

It's time to do the right thing. The choices are clear.

Vote YES on M and NO on LV in November and NO on NII in March!

Yours in transit,
Joel