Transit-oriented development? More like transit rider displacement

For five years, pundits, planners, and policy-makers have scratched their heads at Los Angeles’ steep public transit ridership decline: a 21% decrease on buses,15% in total. To explain it, they cite ride-sharing, cheap gas, even the law that lets undocumented immigrants get licenses to drive. But another answer should be obvious: We lose transit riders when we displace the low-income families who rely on it.

Data from Policy Link/PERE shows that L.A.’s transit riders are mostly low-income black and Latinos: 88% of Metro bus riders are people of color, and more than 50% have annual family incomes under $15,000. When they lose housing near bus or rail lines, they lose access to transit…

We have a name for this kind of displacement: Gentrification. It pushes out low-income residents of color, the same populations most likely to take public transportation.

But transit in Los Angeles isn’t just suffering because of gentrification, it’s causing gentrification. According to a recent UCLA/Berkeley study, transit-adjacent L.A. neighborhoods gentrify at higher rates than other neighborhoods. It’s part of the plan…

If we want to stave off further transit ridership losses — not to mention meet our obligations as human beings to each other — we need to establish a new common-sense planning policy. We must prioritize tenants, not the supply of housing units. Stable housing should be a human right. With universal rent control and more public housing, we would link the well-being of low-income Angelenos of color to a greener future for our city of cars.

The cure to the displacement and ridership crises won’t come from more of the cause…





Muni cuts, subways, land values and gentrification.
Chinatown, North Beach, Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill and the Waterfront are Mediterranean-like villages. But their affordability, beauty, character and diversity are vulnerable to economic forces. In the Wall Street Journal: “Housing costs near rail stops increased after light rail service started.” (SEE BELOW)

As Muni cuts surface transit, developers push for costly subways. The Central Subway takes $595 million of state/ local matching funds from the Muni system—cutting service. With cost overruns, more service will be cut. (SEE BELOW)

“If they build the Subway, it will ensure major, major new development at the stops in Chinatown and North Beach; and in terms of scale, these neighborhoods will never be the same again.”—Allen B. Jacobs, Past SF Planning Director & Dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design

WALL STREET JOURNAL: “Rail Lines Bring Housing Clashes”\

Professors at Northeastern University in Boston examined 42 neighborhoods in 12 U.S. cities in 2010 and found that housing costs near rail stops increased after light rail service started in many markets. “A new transit station can set in motion a cycle of unintended consequences in which core transit users are priced out in favor of higher-income, car-owning residents.”

Others think the affordable-housing funds compound what they say is an inefficient form of transportation. “The way that you get affordable housing is by stopping the government policies that make it unaffordable in the first place,” said Wendell Cox, a demographer and urban-policy consultant in Illinois.

NEWS AT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: “Public transit policies may lower ridership”

Extending public transportation to a metropolitan neighborhood for the first time can, in some cases, raise rents, bringing in a population of wealthier residents who would rather drive than take public transportation.

That’s the conclusion of a report by the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, which found that new public transit investments can sometimes lead to gentrification that prices out renters and low-income households—people considered core public-transportation users—working against the public goal of boosting transit ridership.

REPORT: “Maintaining Diversity in America’s Transit-Rich Neighborhoods”

BROOKLYN BUREAU: “How the M-Train is Gentrifying Bushwick”

Gentrification that has spilled over from industrial East Williamsburg to residential northeast Bushwick is spreading inexorably southward—thanks to a little help from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“It’s all based on the transit system,” said Andrew Clemens, director of retail leasing for Massey Knakal, a real estate brokerage firm. “The proximity to Union Square on the L train made Williamsburg attractive. Now proximity to midtown on the M train is driving the south Bushwick market.”

CURBED LOS ANGELES: “Black-Owned Businesses Already Being Pushed Out of Leimert Park Ahead of the Crenshaw Line” Link
But it looks like the gentrification train is already headed into the station in the predominantly-black neighborhood–a few weeks ago, Our Weekly reported that, recently, “A number of Black businesses in the Village have been notified that their leases won’t be renewed.” New property owners have been coming in, presumably to get in ahead of the subway, and they’re cleaning house already–several commercial properties have changed hands and tenants say they’re being forced out.

GRIDSKIPPER: “The Most Important Chinatown in the World”

“Once spread out over nine city blocks, Washington DC’s Chinatown now comprises a minuscule area that laugh-it-up hipsters refer to as ‘Chinablock’. Even though the community dates back to the 1850s, the most recent census only counted 700 Chinese residents in the neighborhood, making DC the smallest Chinatown in all America. Gentrification happens, right? In 2006, the city of Washington DC spent $200 million to make Chinatown safe and nice for tourists and Virginians. Subsequent side effects included Chinatown becoming much more expensive, really cheesy, and a lot less Chinese. Now it’s that place by the metro to grab lunch before the game at the Verizon Center or a way to break up a day of shopping. It’s also the place to buy a condo if you happen to be a millionaire who wants a room without a view. It’s all quite tragic really, but even more worrisome is the thought that DC Chinatown is the proverbial sparrow in the mineshaft. Will our want of safety and shopping erase the ethnic hoods we love? Let’s discuss!”

“The extension of the Subway tunnels to Washington Square to make a ‘removal pit’ will transform North Beach into something it mustn’t be — and permanently mar its traditional village feeling. With the extension of the Chinatown Subway into the very heart of historicNorth Beach, the special ambience of this fragile quarter will be greatly diminished.”Lawrence Ferlinghetti & City Lights Books, SF Poet Laureate Emeritus

Improving the entire Muni transit system is quicker and less costly—rather than a commuter-oriented subway and gentrification.

MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: Implementation of Zurich’s Transit Priority Program – pdf   “Zurich is famous for the quality of its public transportation system and it has one of the highest levels of per capita transit ridership in the world. This is because its transit service is fast, frequent, reliable and inexpensive due in large part to its transit priority program.” [NOTE: 63% of modal work trips are by public transit].

“The transit priority program enabled all of Zurich’s surface transit lines to improve more quickly and for less money than constructing a new underground line. Consequently, the entire transit network could be improved rather than just building a single line. This was the choice that Zurich faced in a 1973 election that asked voters to spend 1.2 billion Swiss Francs (SFr) for construction of a new underground transit system. Voters rejected that measure and voted instead to provide 200 million SFr over 10 years to implement transit priority measures to make the existing surface transit system more effective.”

MUNI SERVICE CUTS Since 2007, Muni cut service, eliminated 6 bus lines, shortened 22 routes, deferred maintenance, increased missed runs/ switchbacks, increased fares/ fees/ fines/ meters…. In northeastern neighborhoods, the Central Subway’s Phase 1 eliminated the 15-Kearny Bus/ 20-Columbus buses and cut hours for the 41-Union Bus. Later, SFMTA shortened routes for the 10-Townsend/ 12-Folsom buses, decreasing waterfront connectivity. The Central Subway’s Phase 2 will cut 34,000-76,000 bus hours/ year from the 8X, 30 and 45 bus lines. Phase 2 also eliminates the T-Line’s Embarcadero Loop, decreasing trains to Market Street’s BART/ Metro Stations. More buses/ cable cars/ streetcars and new circulator routes would have increased Muni service years ago—quickly and inexpensively.
Redevelopment eradicated the Western Addition and Fillmore neighborhoods. Victorian neighborhoods and its middle-class were demolished Before and after 1906,Chinatown fought off total relocation by developers. Nihonmachi failed in fighting redevelopment and displacement. The Lower Fillmore Jazz District and Afro-American institutions were splintered.



Vote NO on B & C
NO on
Luxury Condominiums that Exceed Height Limits.
$5 Million Condominiums  =  Driving Up Rents for Everyone

EXAMINER:  “Catholic Diocese enters Mission gentrification debate — as landlord”

EXAMINER: “Ellis Act evictions changing the landscape of San Francisco housing”

CHRONICLE:  “Tech boom forcing longtime SF family out of home”  

CHRONICLE:  “Park Lane tenants protest conversion plans”

CHRONICLE:  “Mid-Market artists facing eviction”

EXAMINER:  “Nonprofits sounding alarm as rents climb”