Metro Adds to North Hollywood’s Growth

A new North Hollywood awaits!

What will it look like? Well, we’re not really sure yet, but it’ll be bigger, bolder and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it.

Last Tuesday night, Metro hosted a community forum at the El Portal Theater which I missed, but remember Mr. CiclaValley always plays with house money. I went to previous engagement a couple weeks earlier at North Hollywood Park.


Green good. Blue bad.

To set the tone, NoHo is in the midst of a boom, with midrise mixed users popping up all over and Metro wants to get a pony in this show.

The fact that they want to develop the empty lot on the southwest corner of Lankershim and Chandler isn’t earth shattering. The real eyebrow raiser is seeing the whole parking lot adjoining the Red Line Station will be upended into a megamixedeverything that can at parts reach 18 stories!

But wait there’s more. Even the spot across the street where people board the Orange Line is slated for construction as well as a smaller plot on the north side of Chandler.


Inquiring minds want to know..

Mind you, there aren’t many details past that unless massing models excite you, but they are hankering to get a developer signed on soon.

On the surface, sign me up. This is the direction NoHo should be headed, as the neighborhood has been embracing this densification while maintaining this new found vibrancy. Exciting new restaurants jostle with each other, coffee shops are filled with youth checking their facebook and we even have a new movie theater here.

But before I chew on this apple whole, there are a few unanswered questions.


The red dots don’t represent blood.

The first issue is parking. No, I’m not turning all driver on you now, but having a two year old sometimes limits your options(under current conditions). In the four years since I’ve lived in adjacent Valley Village, the rate of parking availability has shrunk faster than the rise of population growth. Since there are plenty of other projects looming and its a problem that’s trending to get worse.

At the same time, many of these developments are promising an excessive amount of parking, which then creates the problem of mind numbing traffic. It’s a chicken and the egg problem. One I’m glad to confront since  it gives me an excuse for one of my favorite Flight of the Conchords clips to illustrate:

At the community forum, I got to speak with Frank Ching, Metro’s Director of Parking Management. He seemed very mindful of all the issues towards adding additional parking to their new project. Have too little and the problem may overflow into the neighborhood. Invite too many cars and the congestion will keep vehicles from getting into the parking.


Cars and the red theme again

The good thing is that this isn’t his first rodeo, but at the same time, he faces the pressure of an uninformed community that doesn’t understand the problems of inviting more cars into your brood. Still, when you see the plan suggesting they more than double the amount of spaces for transit alone, you start to wonder where this is headed.

Of course, a lot of these issues could be alleviated if NoHo was more bike friendly.

If you go to the Red Line station at any daylight hour, you’ll find the bike racks completely filled. I can point to my wife or the other cyclists that get to station by 6:15am in that the only thing you’ll find parking is for is human powered two wheelers.


NoHo Station on a Sunday Evening!

Still the area is unfriendly to cyclists. Magnolia and Lankershim are tough to get to with no bike lanes and sidewalks that are narrow to navigate even as a pedestrian. I’ve tried taking CV Jr. by trailer onto the streets which is a no-no and when I’ve tried to go onto the sidewalks there are portions impassable by light poles alone.

The funny thing is it never used to be like this. Look at this old photo of Lankershim:


Lankershim looking north of Magnolia(El Portal Theater on your left)

A lot of space to walk if you aren’t out and about in your buggy. Things look far more tamer than today. Now look at what this film crew caught of what it’s like to cross Magnolia & Lankershim today:

Poor Julia Roberts never had a chance….

Okay. That might have been Erin Brochovich, but you get the point. Lankershim is not people friendly and if you check LA’s Vision Zero High Injury Network, it isn’t too kind to vehicles either. At least Julia got an Oscar out of getting t-boned. The rest of us are not that lucky.

Despite the success of CicLAvia rollings right down NoHo’s throat, we’ve seen no movement on bike infrastructure on streets that cyclists would use. While we live in a hopeful age, at some point actions become more important than words.

North Hollywood is in the midst of another renaissance and can be the center of activity in the valley, but we’re only now starting to scratch the surface of how this frenzy of development will alter the future. Let’s hope the lessons we are learning about mobility will finally catch on in the suburb-rich area we know as the San Fernando Valley.