Bringing Back the NoHo Streetcar Idea


Red marks the NoHo Streetcar path. Blue marks an idea for a Moorpark Streetcar idea.

After a September 2007 LAist post about an idea of putting a streetcar in the NoHo Arts District, it grabbed first-year UCLA student Nguyen Doan's attention. "It really got me to thinking about how useful a streetcar system would be and motivated me to do research on the subject." When Doan was presented with a class assignment instructing students to write a policy letter providing a possible solution to a Los Angeles community, he went further into the issue.

The original post on LAist spoke to residents of NoHo Arts District not taking advantage of the Metro Red Line due to crime concerns and the amount of commute walk time (the LA Times spoke to this issue citywide in a June 30, 2007 article). Even for those who lived near a bus stop serving the Metro Orange and Red Line stations found that the headways were too seldom. "The bus stops in the NoHo Arts District have too much distance between them, discouraging people from walking from bus stop to bus stop," Doan writers in his letter to the Chairman at the Community Redevelopment Agency, William H. Jackson III. "The most recent crime statistics in North Hollywood accumulated by the Los Angeles Police Department indicates a 19% increase in violent crimes like homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults."

In the original LAist post, commenters agree for the need of a local circulator in the district, but LA Map Nerd questioned the infrastructure needs of a streetcar. "Yeah, NoHo really needs a local circulator or three, as all the CRA redevelopment stuff comes online. But why a streetcar? If it's going to be running in mixed street traffic just like a shuttle bus, why is a streetcar better than a shuttle bus? What justifies the far higher cost to build it, the much longer time to plan & implement it, the difficulty of re-routing it if (when!) use patterns change, the disruption and congestion of constructing it, the safety issues inherent in mixed rail/auto traffic and high-voltage overhead trolley wires, yadda yadda ya - all the issues that killed off the streetcars years ago?"

Nguyen Doan Letter

March 13, 2008

William H. Jackson III
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of CRA/LA
354 S. Spring Street, Suite 800
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Dear Mr. Jackson:

As a resident who is concerned with the community in which I live, I
am writing to you to demonstrate how beneficial a streetcar system in
the NoHo Arts District would be. Since you are the head of the Board
of Commissioners of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles,
you are an official who cares about North Hollywood, an official who
looks into the community's redevelopment plans, and an official who
has the power to initiate the streetcar plan I am proposing. The NoHo
Arts District would benefit from a streetcar system because the city
needs more people to use its public transportation in order to reduce
traffic congestion. Not enough people ride the bus because there is a
problem of inconvenience: the bus stops in the NoHo Arts District have
too much distance between them, discouraging people from walking from
bus stop to bus stop. Furthermore, due to the increasing crime rate in
North Hollywood, people feel unsafe when they have to walk to a bus
stop at night. Having streetcars in the Arts District will not only
provide convenience and safety for North Hollywood's residents, it
will aid the community in other aspects. The streetcars will promote
the NoHo Arts District's image of culture, creativity, and resurgence
of history, as well as attract more tourists to the area. Finally,
North Hollywood's residents love its history, and we would definitely
appreciate the splendid return of the streetcar.

According to the United States Census Bureau, even though Los Angeles
is the second largest city in the nation, only 12% of its population
use public transportation. Compared to smaller cities like Chicago and
Philadelphia, each containing 27% of the population using public
transit, LA has a rather low percentage. North Hollywood has an even
lower number of public transportation users. The Los Angeles
Neighborhood Initiative website shows that only 5.7% of North
Hollywood's population use the public transit system. There are
reasons for such a small percentage. After reading that on Lankershim
Boulevard, it can take up to 20 minutes to get to a bus stop, I
decided to investigate this myself. Indeed, the information published
on LAist, an online news and entertainment source about Los Angeles,
is more than accurate.

Even though it is possible for people to drive their cars to the bus
stop if they feel that the walk is too time-consuming, the
disadvantages of this outweigh its advantages. It is obvious that
driving a car to the bus stop will only add to the already heavy
traffic congestion (I witness the bottleneck almost everyday while
driving to school). Moreover, the parking meters in the NoHo Arts
District have a limit of only 2 hours, so those who want to ride the
bus to work cannot park their cars all day. The cost of parking at a
meter- which can add up to 2 or 3 dollars- will be the same or even
more than the cost of riding a streetcar. Traveling via streetcar will
quickly get people where they want without having to worry about
parking. Of course, more accessibility will result in a higher
percentage of bus riders, which will lead to a desired decrease in
automobile traffic.

A streetcar system in the Arts District will assure more safety for
the neighborhood. The most recent crime statistics in North Hollywood
accumulated by the Los Angeles Police Department indicates a 19%
increase in violent crimes like homicide, rape, robbery, and
aggravated assaults. This surge of crime rate in the community is
another reason why people choose to not ride the bus. LAist points out
that individuals, especially women, are endangered when walking the
long distance to a bus stop at night. Instead of becoming a potential
murder, rape, robbery, or assault victim, a person can prevent this if
he or she can take a streetcar and reduce his or her time on the
streets. Again, the streetcar only provides advantages to North
Hollywood: residents will feel safer and bus ridership will increase.

The NoHo Arts District is a place that strongly advocates culture,
creativity, and a revival of history. In North Hollywood's early
history, the streetcar was a significant entity. Bringing back the
streetcar will help the city accomplish its goal of restoring history
and help your redevelopment agency accomplish its goal of improving
the neighborhood's conditions. Moreover, a streetcar system will
create a culture in North Hollywood that will be distinct from other
communities. Streetcars moving along and connecting the streets of the
theater-and-arts-based city will create an elevating atmosphere of a
unique and united community. A recent Los Angeles Times article
explains how North Hollywood's residents oppose the relocation of a
historical building in the area. This illustrates how much these
people value their city's history. They will be grateful for the
reestablishment of the streetcar and they will have incentive to
explore the city more. A streetcar system will not only advance the
resident's dedication to the area, it will also boost the tourism in
North Hollywood. The city's economy will flourish and prosper as more
and more tourists visit the NoHo Arts District to experience its
noteworthy environment of theaters, acting studios, and streetcars.

Since the 1970s, the Community Redevelopment Agency has come up with
plans to make North Hollywood a more attractive, more developed, and
more lively urban community. I believe that a streetcar system in the
NoHo Arts District will do everything that your organization wants to
accomplish. The streetcar will provide convenience and safety for the
residents. It will sustain and add to the Arts District's
extraordinary culture of arts and entertainment as well as help the
city revive its history. Having lived here for eighteen years, I
simply want North Hollywood to be the best possible community, and
you, Mr. Jackson, have the authority to help me advance the proposal
of a streetcar system in the NoHo Arts District. Thank you very much
for your time.

Sincerely,


Nguyen Doan