Musings on growth from a long-time transit advocate and new resident
#SouthParkStories: Fresh Perspective in South Park
Contributed by Thomas Shrout Jr
Shrout, with Circa and Oceanwide Plaza in the background.
"So, you moved to Los Angeles because of the weather?" my friends of more than 30 years back in St. Louis often ask.

The easy answer is to why my wife Debra and I moved is "Yes, the weather."

But there is a more nuanced answer about becoming new residents of South Park in December 2016. It's a great neighborhood, with everything we need just a few steps away. Other destinations are easily reached by train or bus, and Lyft is there when needed. New apartment and condo complexes are in the works, new shops, bars and restaurants are opening, and street life is becoming more and more animated. This is a great neighborhood, and it will only get better as more people hear about this slice of LA.

I spent the last 30 years working for the expansion of public transit in St. Louis and around the country, and in Los Angeles we are able to live car-free, much to the surprise of friends and colleagues. In our case, no car payments, insurance, gas and maintenance means we can live in a nicer space. Pico Station, soon to be renamed South Park / L.A. LIVE is a huge asset to our neighborhood. Just look at the buildings shooting up within a short walk of the station. Soon those buildings will fill up and new residents and visitors will join us in stimulating business to offer more choices of places to shop, live, dine and play.

While so much investment has been made in transit infrastructure, for our neighborhood to fully benefit from it we must make sure that the sidewalks are in good shape, the streetlighting is working, and the street trees are flourishing. People come and go to the Pico Station on foot - it must be a pleasant and safe experience. Right now, too many sidewalks are in bad shape, street trees are missing and far too many streetlights are out (in January, I reported 7 out in the one-block on Hope between Olympic and 11 th. They still aren't fixed. Greater attention to the details of the public realm will take this neighborhood to the next level).

Metro needs to end the bottlenecks, delays and collisions with cars between Pico and Washington. The proposed renaming of Pico Station is crucial - it needs to tell passengers (like 2028 Olympic Game visitors) something about the location. People from around the world ride reliable and extensive transit systems and will expect to do the same in LA.

Now as for the dedicated bike lane on 11 th which is part of the MyFig project; yes it's an inconvenience and I wish construction would hurry along, but it will be such an improvement to the neighborhood and broader downtown transportation network when completed - putting bikers and pedestrians on equal footing with cars. In the meantime, I've self-appointed myself "MyFig neighborhood watch dog," i.e. I will nip at the heels of the project managers and elected officials to keep them going. Let's get this important project finished!

All this is to say that Debra and I thrive on the "can-do" spirit we have found in South Park, Los Angeles and California. There is a sense that no problem is too big to tackle. Big projects are in our wheelhouse. Despite what other parts of the country are doing, California - and South Park - are moving ahead. That - the optimism and quality of life - is what brought us to our new home.

And, oh, the LA weather is pretty spectacular as well.
Thomas Shrout Jr. is a resident at Luma. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Tom advocated for a more robust transit system in St Louis as Executive Director of Citizen for Modern Transit. He and his wife Debra now work on coalition building and advocacy for transit, education, and non-profit organizations through their consulting firm, Avvantt Partners.

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