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Waiting for the train -- the subway, that is

February 18, 2009 |  1:23 pm

Subway The name of the panel discussion being sponsored by the Westside Urban Forum on Friday morning says it all: Waiting for the Train. Measure R — the half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters last year — is supposed to ignite a rail building boom, and that raises the question: What kind of accompanying development is going to get built, and where?

To put it another way: If many billions of dollars are going to be spent building a subway to Westwood, should there be a lot of residential or commercial development allowed near the stations? And would that help or harm the Westside's already congested traffic?

The panelists are Los Angeles chief planner Gail Goldberg, MTA planning chief Carol Inge and MTA real estate chief Roger Moliere. Time permitting, the audience is usually given the chance to lob some questions at them. Here's a pair of suggestions if you're planning on attending:

Gail: Putting aside the fact that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hired you and can fire you at will, how would you assess his planning and traffic efforts on the Westside? Suggested follow-up: In your heart of hearts, do you really believe that Westside traffic will ever improve much?

Carol: Does anyone have any idea how much the subway extension will really cost? And how much federal money is needed to get the thing to Westwood before the MTA's current timeline of 2032?

These events are pricey — it's $40 for nonmembers of the Westside Urban Forum and $20 for members, if you register by today. But I've been to a few of the events, and they're usually entertaining and informative. More info can be found at the Westside Urban Forum website. I'll be attending — if you have a question for one of the panelists, e-mail me and I'll try to snag an answer.

Steve Hymon