Living in L.A. means you’ve probably said to yourself at least once, "I wish I could take Metro to (insert Metro-less location here)." Often, that blank is filled by West Hollywood, one of L.A.’s hippest cultural centers that remains inaccessible to regular Metro riders.
West Hollywood has been calling for light rail within its borders for years. Now, the city is making a serious push to actually get a Metro stop.
The city's mayor, Lindsey Horvath, says the plan would involve extending the in-progress Crenshaw Line north along San Vicente Blvd., which would connect it to the city of West Hollywood as well as LAX, and end it with a connector at the Hollywood/Highland Red Line station.
“This would allow us to connect directly to desirable destinations like the Beverly Center and Cedars Sinai,” says Horvath. “We know that Metro is making sure that the connections take us to arts and cultural destinations as well as health centers, and Cedars really helps to justify that alignment. In fact, that alignment would increase ridership on every line of Metro.”
Looking at the proposed map of the project, one might think that the plan would add extra time for riders going between West Hollywood and LAX. Mayor Horvath says the additional time isn’t significant enough to make a difference. She also believes that the overall benefit of having access to places like the Hollywood Bowl and Universal Studios outweighs other concerns.
Currently, West Hollywood operates CityLine X, a shuttle service that takes riders from WeHo to the Hollywood/Highland Metro station. Horvath says West Hollywood has been orienting its development around transit. The city will continue this service and likely add shuttles to the Purple Line as that develops.
“We voted overwhelmingly for Measure R and have been expecting that rail would be coming to our community. We are the exact kind of community that needs to be served by rail, so we will always do whatever we can on our end to make those important transit connections, but we also are advocating and building our community to bring rail directly to our community as well.”
West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran has proposed a sales tax hike to help pay for the new rail lines that could hit ballots as early as the June primary. However, if passed, West Hollywood would have a 9.5 percent sales tax, backing up against the 10 percent state cap. That means Metro would likely have to negotiate with the city for a share of the money. But Mayor Horvath says she’s not worried about backlash.
“I think that we all have different ways of getting there, but ultimately we know that Metro’s priorities for Measure R need to be fulfilled, and we see Crenshaw and the Northern extension as a fulfillment of those promises. So we want to do everything that we can as a community to be prepared to support Metro’s efforts in making that extension happen.”
Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington responded by saying that the West Hollywood extension is part of Metro’s overarching plan to improve transportation in L.A.
“There’s a possibility to accelerate that as well,” Washington said. “When we talk about doing that in phases, maybe there’s a phase to Wilshire and then later on going all the way to Hollywood, or maybe if we move with a 45 or 50 year plan, there’s a possibility to do the whole thing at once and accelerate. That would be our preference.”