Improving Our Local DASH Service

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) is currently re-examining its transit system and looking to improve the City’s bus service with the help of the public under an initiative called “Moving Forward…Together.” In Northeast LA, the most prominent LADOT transit service is the Eagle Rock/Highland Park DASH line. This line does something peculiar when traveling between Avenue 54 and Avenue 58 that the LADOT may want to consider changing.

Before

The local DASH route as it goes through “downtown” Highland Park, each blue circle denotes a bus stop. The DASH makes a very inefficient loop-like movement (noted by the red circle) to serve the Highland Park Gold Line Station.

If heading toward San Pascual Park, currently the DASH travels south on Avenue 54, turns left onto Figueroa, makes 2 stops on Figueroa (at Avenue 55 and Avenue 56), turns left onto Avenue 57, stops at Highland Park Gold Line Station on Marmion Way, turns right on Avenue 58, then makes a left onto Figueroa again and heads northeast on Figueroa. It makes the same motion in reverse if heading toward the Eagle Rock Plaza. On Tuesdays, the DASH does not stop at the Highland Park Gold Line Station due to the weekly farmer’s market.This portion of the route is very inefficient and is needlessly complicated with the weekly farmer’s market throwing the route off four times a month.

After

The DASH route can be simplified and still serve the Highland Park Gold Line Station without making an inefficient loop. This re-routing would also eliminate conflict the weekly farmer’s market. LADOT might also consider consolidating bus stops to reduce how often the bus needs to pull over to pick up and drop off passengers.

However, this situation could be simplified through a minor adjustment. Rather than making a left onto Figueroa from Avenue 54, the DASH should instead make a left onto Monte Vista St, make two stops on Monte Vista St (at Avenue 54 and Avenue 56), turn right on Avenue 57 with a stop at Marmion Way, then continue south and make a left onto Figueroa from Avenue 57. 

This would:

  1. Speed up service by eliminating the unnecessary looping and zig-zag the route currently makes.
  2. Eliminate the route’s conflict with the weekly farmer’s market and the re-routing that occurs every Tuesday.
  3. Improve the DASH as a means of reaching the Highland Park Gold Line Station.
  4. Provide a more direct and predictable path of travel for DASH users.

When heading toward the Eagle Rock Plaza, the DASH route can make the same proposed motion in reverse. The bus would make a right onto Avenue 57 from Figueroa, stop at Marmion Way to let passengers off the bus to hop on the Gold Line (or visit the farmer’s market, if on a Tuesday), then make a left onto Monte Vista St followed by a right onto Avenue 54. An alternative would be to simply run the DASH on Figueroa rather than Monte Vista but doing so would remove the possibility for a stop directly in front of the Gold Line Station.

The Eagle Rock/Highland Park DASH route is far from efficient, after all it is primarily intended as a local circulator than a speedy connection. Even if the route made the change proposed in this post it would still be relatively inefficient for most trips but service would be improved considerably. The loop the DASH makes in this area exists solely to drop people off at the Highland Park Gold Line Station is likely a result of a route revision made after the Gold Line station opened without much thought given to the impact on the quality and speed of the DASH service. If several such modifications are made over time, a bus line can become near useless and a pain for those that depend on it. The proposed modification in this post eliminates the loop altogether while still serving the Gold Line (and dropping riders off even closer to the station’s entrance if the DASH stops at the same bus stop as the 256), creating a seemingly “win-win” situation. There are other parts of this local DASH route that may warrant re-evaluation, in particular the portion between Figueroa and San Pascual Park, but any potential changes there will not be as simple or inconsequential.

(For more information about LADOT’s “Moving Forward…Together” initiative, click here. To take an LADOT survey or to participate in the Department’s forum on improving DASH (or creating a new DASH line), click here. And for more information about the Eagle Rock/Highland Park DASH line, click here. If you have any suggestions for improvements to DASH service in Northeast LA, be sure to let the LADOT know via their forum and contact information on their website.)

Eagle Rock’s Freeway Revolt

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Looking West on Las Flores Drive from Ellenwood Drive.

Las Flores Drive is about 20 feet wide, curb-to-curb. It is one of the narrowest streets to run contiguously for as long as it does, and to also feature sidewalks on both sides of the street. It’s no surprise people sometimes mistake it for an alley, it really is a quaint street. However, without community engagement, there is a good chance the street would not exist in its tranquil state, if at all.

134 Freeway Plans Take Shape

In the 1950s, plans to complete the 134 Freeway (then referred to as the Colorado Boulevard Freeway) started to take shape. At this point, the freeway already ran through Burbank and Pasadena, but it did not yet go through Glendale or Eagle Rock[i]. Initially, there were a few routing configurations being considered for the portion through Eagle Rock. One proposal had the freeway running south of Colorado Boulevard along Chickasaw Avenue, while the other two placed the freeway north of the boulevard, with one along Las Flores Drive and the other on Hill Drive.

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The grey thick lines show the proposed Las Flores and Chickasaw freeway routes. Image credit: Eagle Rock by Eric Warren

These routes were immediately opposed by a substantial portion of the neighborhood, including local elected officials  and the Chamber of Commerce. Hundreds of people attended meetings lasting several hours. In 1959, Eagle Rock’s Assembly Representative, John Collier, boldly proclaimed that a freeway through Eagle Rock “brings no benefits” to anyone [ii]. Eagle Rock residents protested on the behalf of the numerous residents that would be displaced by the freeway routing with one local at the time stating:

“A freeway that would cut Eagle Rock in two would kill this community as a lovely residential suburb.” [iii]

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EL Mercado and York Park Grand Opening

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Folks had a rare opportunity to enjoy strolling York Boulevard free of cars during the York Park grand opening.

Yesterday Highland Park enjoyed a very special event, the grand opening of the long anticipated York Park, located on the corner of York Boulevard and Avenue 50. Planned in conjunction with what has great potential to be a recurring street fair on York Boulevard between Avenue 50 and Avenue 52, El Mercado, it was a memorable day for all in attendance.

IMG_1944Before the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the York Park, Councilmember Jose Huizar detailed the hard work it took to get to this day. The park’s grand opening reflects years of meetings and dedicated community engagement. Huizar also took the opportunity to share how proud he is of improvements that have been made over the years in the district, including the development the neighborhood’s bicycle network and piloting of small-scale innovations for more walkable streets (now formally adopted in the city’s People Street program).

Senator De Leon spoke of the park’s importance as a symbol of environmental justice. He noted that some westside neighborhoods have front yards larger many homes in the area and that every neighborhood deserves access to parks, particularly so that children have a safe spaces to play and grow.

Congressmember Becerra, aware that children were very eager to start enjoying the park, was brief in his remarks but recounted his advocacy for the community on the federal level to help secure funds for civic improvements such as the York Park.

Assemblymember Gomez, who walked to the event from his Eagle Rock home, said he is proud to live in a walkable neighborhood and frequents the bustling York Boulevard corridor often to patronize local businesses. He said he is pushing for further improvements to make the district he represents more livable, with a focus on Los Angeles River revitalization and improved bicycle infrastructure connecting to the River.

While most attention was rightfully dedicated to the York Park opening, here are some additional highlights from the event looking at the street fair along the two block stretch of York Boulevard:

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York Boulevard was truly a street for people.

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Colorful sidewalk chalking .

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Some of the businesses open during the event benefitted from the additional foot traffic.

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This was the scene at the edge of the street fair. Traffic was re-routed onto Meridian Avenue and Lincoln Avenue, streets paralleling York Boulevard.

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York Boulevard felt more like space for neighbors to gather than an thoroughfare to rush through.

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Crowd gathers around the park as it finally opens. Note the amusing sign overhead.

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The city’s first bike corral was filled beyond capacity. Many other parked bikes dotted the street fair.

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One of the delightful sights during the event was seeing bikes with child-seats.

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The focus may have been on the children, but the day was truly for everyone. Here an elderly couple takes a pause and does some people watching, utilizing the city’s first public parklet

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Old roadway marking visible in the center of the street (the dark grey lines in the middle) reminds us of a time not long ago when York Boulevard was two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane at intersections. That York Boulevard would be populated with people like this would be unimaginable just ten years ago.

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The intersection of York Boulevard and Avenue 51 became a communal outdoor seating area reminiscent of Downtown’s Bring Back Broadway initiative.

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By all accounts, the celebratory day was a huge success. A question many had before the day was over was “when can this happen again?”

A big thank you to all who made the day possible!

(ps. No pictures of the park in this post but some great pictures can be found on twitter, including this one, taken from the roof of the building across the street. Also, see The Eastsider LA’s coverage for some additional pictures of the park.)

York Boulevard Park Nears Completion

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In 20 days, this lot on the corner of Avenue 50 and York Boulevard will be a public park.

On Saturaday, February 21, a long anticipated park on the corner of Avenue 50 and York Boulevard, currently under construction, will finally open. The day will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting and a street fair as the most ambitious part of the York Boulevard Vision Plan, a comprehensive and community-driven plan for improvements along the boulevard, comes to life. However, as we count down the days to what is now an inevitability, it is important to remember that four years ago the park was just an idea and its location an empty, privately-owned lot.

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Eagle Rock Walking Tour on August 23

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In March, LA Walks hosted a walking tour of Eagle Rock. On August 23, 2014 we at Walk Eagle Rock will host our own walking tour.

It was not long ago in March that Los Angeles Walks hosted a walking tour of our neighborhood. Topics of interest ranging from architectural landmarks to transportation history and recent civic improvements were covered by two knowledgable local guides. We here at Walk Eagle Rock have long discussed the possibility of hosting walking tours and we are pleased to announce that on August 23, 2014 we will finally be doing so.

As the environmental impact report (EIR) comment period for the Scholl Canyon Landfill is coming to a close (the deadline is August 29), we think it would be appropriate to host a walk focused on community and civic engagement. Eagle Rock has a long history of being an active community and it certainly would not be as fantastic as it is today without the efforts of residents taking the time to participate, on all levels, to improve the neighborhood.

Find the details of our walk below and (if you would like) RSVP to our Facebook event:

Community and Civic Engagement in Eagle Rock

  • Date: Saturday, August 23, 2014
  • Time: 9:00AM-12:00PM
  • Location: 2035 Colorado Blvd (Eagle Rock City Hall)
  • Walking Tour Length: 6 miles
  • Event is free and open to the public. Restrooms/water fountains will be available at mile 2 and 4.
  • Questions? Email us at walkeaglerock@gmail.com

A Lot of Green

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The triangular surface parking lot outside of Delevan Elementary (visible in background). A row of trees planted in the parkway along Wawona Street visually obscure the park lot’s bleakness. Image via: Google Maps

Surface parking lots are seldom thought to be aesthetically pleasing. In fact, whether they are empty or cluttered with cars, the oil-stained asphalt areas are often considered downright ugly. Residents of Northeast LA – newcomers and old-timers alike – upon seeing photographs of beautiful buildings that once stood where strip-malls and surface parking lots exist today frequently lament the architectural losses. The damage can be observed throughout the neighborhood but there is no turning back to prevent the mistakes of the past.

Nowadays, locals are much more tuned into local development plans and it is difficult to imagine any existing buildings being demolished to create strip-malls or parking lots. Along  much of Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock such development plans are explicitly prohibited thanks to the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan. But there is no denying that we must live with many of the surface parking lots we have today into the foreseeable future, either out of necessity or because development can take decades to transform an area since it happens incrementally on a case-by-case basis.

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Strolling Figueroa Street with Google Maps

By letting people zoom in to the street level of any location, the “street view” feature on Google Maps can be a great tool for exploring the neighborhood in a matter of minutes without taking a single step. Because the Google van that records the neighborhood shows up randomly and unannounced, the feature typically offers a nice snapshot of what conditions are like on any given day in a neighborhood. A look at North Figueroa Street* with “street view” seems to reflect this and confirms what anyone who uses the street regularly likely already knows– a lot of people ride bikes on the street! Let’s take a stroll and see how many bikes we can spot…

*(Between York Boulevard and San Fernando Road)

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(All images via: Google Maps Street View)

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So what did we see?

  • 18 people bicycling, or walking with bikes
  • 10 people with bikes on the sidewalk (but only 3 of them actually riding)
  • 6 people bicycling or walking their bike while wearing a backpack
  • 3 people wearing helmets
  • 1 bike with a rear basket
  • 0 “hipsters”