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Modernizing Metro: The New Blue

The Metro Blue Line is undergoing a comprehensive $350-million modernization to improve reliability, upgrade safety and enhance the customer experience. Work to update the Blue Line — which opened in 1990 and is Metro’s oldest rail line — has been ongoing since 2014 with a series of safety and operational improvements.

“The Blue Line is Metro’s workhorse and in need of significant investments — not just to  provide a modern feel, but also to ensure  the infrastructure continues to work for many more decades to come,” said Metro Board Director and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The upcoming improvement project will require two extended four-month closures. Work on the southern segment of the line began on January 26.

In addition, Blue Line service to Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station will be closed for eight months while the station is rebuilt with more capacity, a new customer service center and community plaza, easier connections to local buses and surrounding communities, and upgrades to safety and security systems. During the closure, Green Line service will operate normally at Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station.

Work on the Blue Line will include improvements to the signaling, tracks and overhead wires that delivers the electricity to power the trains. Four new crossover tracks will be built to reduce service interruptions. There will also be numerous station improvements, including new interactive digital map displays for all stations, which will display train arrival and departure times, service alerts, and maps of the system and nearby area. Other visible amenities will include new signage and landscaping.

The Metro Board of Directors recently approved the naming of rail lines with letters and colors to accommodate a growing system and make our rail and bus rapid transit network easier to understand and more custom friendly. Upon completion of the entire New Blue Improvement Project, the new name for the Blue Line will be the “A” Line with the color blue.

“We have implemented a comprehensive public outreach program to notify the public of Blue Line rail service interruptions, construction and the bus shuttle service,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “Metro is committed to improving reliability, upgrading safety and enhancing the customer experience on the Blue Line.”

The closures are as follows:
Southern segment:

  • January 26 to late May 2019: rail service will be suspended from the Blue Line 103rd St/Watts Towers Station to the Downtown Long Beach Station and replaced by expanded shuttle bus service. The Blue Line will continue running between 7th St/Metro Center in downtown Los Angeles and 103rd St/Watts Towers Station.

Northern segment:

  • Late May to September 2019: rail service will be suspended from the Blue Line Compton Station to 7th St/Metro Center and replaced by expanded shuttle bus service. The Blue Line will continue running between Compton Station and Downtown Long Beach Station. Red and Purple Line service will operate normally at 7th St/Metro Center.
  • During the northern segment closure, Expo Line rail service will be suspended for 45 days at 7th St/Metro Center and Pico Station with train service in that segment replaced by bus shuttles. Expo Line trains will continue to run between LATTC/Ortho Institute Station and Downtown Santa Monica.

Metro will offer three types of Blue Line Bus Shuttle Service during the closures:

  • Blue Line Local Bus Shuttle Service will be free with buses serving all closed Blue Line stations and 103rd St/Watts Towers, where customers can transfer to the trains heading to/from downtown Los Angeles. The shuttles will run the same hours as the Blue Line, seven days a week.
  • Blue Line Select Bus Shuttle Service will have a $1.75 fare and serve busier stations during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to the Blue Line or other lines within two hours of starting a trip. Select bus shuttles will run Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. During the closure between Downtown Long Beach and 103rd Street Station, the Select Bus Shuttles will serve the following stations: Pacific, 1st Street/Downtown Long Beach, 5th Street, Anaheim, Pacific Coast Highway, Willow, Wardlow, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks, and 103rd/Watts Towers. During the closure between Compton and 7th St/Metro, the Select Bus Shuttles will service 7th St/Metro, Pico, Grand/LATTC, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks and Compton.
  • Blue Line Express Shuttle Service will have a $1.75 fare with limited stops between Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles during morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to other lines within two hours of starting a trip. The Express Bus Service will run Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Stations served will be Pacific Ave, Downtown Long Beach/1st St, 5th St, Anaheim St, Pacific Coast Hwy, Willow St, Wardlow, LATTC/Ortho Institute, Grand/LATTC, Pico and 7th St/Metro Center.

Metro is launching a robust outreach campaign to Metro customers, cities, communities, stakeholders and the public about the New Blue. The New Blue website at http://www.metro.net/newblue includes a fact sheet and map with the three bus shuttle services.

Thinking Outside the Box to Address Homelessness

The Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative announced the winners of the first-ever Housing Innovation Challenge, a call for proposals that has awarded $4.5 million in Measure H funding for game-changing creative and scalable permanent housing solutions for those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County. The Housing Innovation Challenge has made four awards at the $1 million level and one at the $500,000 level for faster, cost-effective construction/rehabilitation and/or creative finance models to produce permanent housing for the County’s most vulnerable residents.

Housing Innovation Challenge Winner United Dwelling depicts garage conversion rendering.

At a time of heightened collaboration in the region, this effort was designed to activate stakeholders and creative strategists across the region to contribute sustainable solutions to homelessness. The Challenge received more than 50 proposals, which were evaluated by a panel of experts in urban planning, real estate development, affordable housing and architecture. Each awarded project will result in the production of permanent housing for homeless families or individuals in Los Angeles County.

“Everyone who calls Los Angeles home should live in communities that afford them dignity and worth,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “These novel yet practical solutions will allow the County and its private sector partners to scale up compassion and innovation in a thoughtful manner. This is truly Measure H at work!”

Housing Innovation Challenge Winner “Restore Neighborhoods Los Angeles” depicts accessible units with equity participation from neighbors in South LA.

The funded projects are:

  • Brooks + Scarpa Architects, Inc. – NEST: A Prefab Modular, Sustainable Kit of Parts that can be assembled on any typical 50 x 150 parcel ($1 million)
  • Flyaway Homes, LLC – Modular Permanent Supportive Housing Communities, to scale their model of leveraging private equity to develop supportive housing faster and at ¼ the cost per person ($1 million)
  • LifeArk, SPC – LifeArk Micro-Communities, a kit-of-parts building system that is developable on any lot size or shape ($1 million)
  • United Dwelling – Detached Garage Conversion into Affordable Studios, for its institutional development of beautifully-designed garage-converted Accessory Dwelling Units ($ 1 million)
  • Restore Neighborhoods Los Angeles – South LA Bungalow Project for its neighborhood shared equity model for accessible units built by-right in a traditional bungalow style courtyard ($500,000)

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas shows off the three winning projects that will be built in the Second District of Los Angeles County.

“The Challenge was issued at a critical juncture in the Countywide movement to combat and prevent homelessness,” said Phil Ansell, Director, L.A. County Homeless Initiative. “While our collective efforts are moving in the right direction, this was a unique opportunity to solicit new approaches and continue to advance our efforts to help people move from homelessness to housing.”

Three of the winners –Flyaway Homes, United Dwelling, and Restore Neighborhoods — plan to implement projects in the County’s Second District. Meanwhile, another winner, Brooks + Scarpa Architects, is headquartered in the Second District.

To view the winning submissions and honorable mentions, visit housinginnovationchallenge.com.


Winners of the Housing Innovation Challenge join Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and L.A. County Homeless Initiative Director Phil Ansell. All photos by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas On the Sheriff’s Reinstatement of a Fired Deputy

“I was deeply troubled when I first learned about the Sheriff’s unilateral decision to rehire a deputy who had been fired for alleged domestic violence, a termination upheld by the Civil Service Commission.  My concerns were further amplified when I heard the Sheriff’s testimony before the Board of Supervisors.

“Contrary to what has been implied, I do not believe that County Counsel approved the Sheriff’s actions. His extraordinary personnel decision sends the wrong message to both victims and other deputies.

“Every Los Angeles County employee must be held to a high standard, but especially law enforcement personnel who are sworn to protect and serve, and in whom the community must place great trust. That is why I have strived for years to advance civil service reform that balances protecting employee rights with ensuring that our workforce provides services with integrity, courtesy and excellence.”

Making Sure Everyone Counts

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas joined more than 7,000 volunteers who fanned out across Los Angeles County over three nights for the 2019 Homeless Count, a federally mandated annual census to guide programs and services where most needed.

At a press conference, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas noted the results of last year’s Count showed a decline for the first time in four years, and he stressed the importance of sustaining that momentum.

“Thanks to Measure H, our public and nonprofit partners are on track to house 45,000 men, women and children over a period of five years,” he said. “We have already collectively housed almost 10,000 men, women and children — and that’s just over the last 15 months. Each of us has a part to play in helping resolve this humanitarian crisis, whether by gathering data during the Count, or by using the LA-HOP website throughout the year to connect our unhoused neighbors to street outreach workers.”

Priscilla and Ryan Coughran prepare to participate in the homeless Count. All photos by Aurelia Ventura / Board of Supervisors

Priscilla and Ryan Coughran and their young children were among those who participated in this year’s Count. The family had been homeless themselves until the County stepped in to provide them with housing and services. Now, the couple is determined to help others who are still struggling, while also teaching their sons an important life lesson. “Us experiencing homelessness as a family, it was important to us that even after we got housed that we didn’t forget that, that our boys didn’t forget that,” Priscilla said.

The data from the Count offers a comprehensive look at the state of homelessness in Los Angeles County on any given night, including geographic distribution and trends among various populations. The results will be released in May 2019.

The 2018 Count showed the number of people experiencing homelessness decreased to about 53,000 people — a 4 percent drop from 2017, and the first decline since 2014. Both the County and City of Los Angeles are working to sustain that progress with Measure H and the County’s Homeless Initiative, Proposition HHH, and other initiatives combat homelessness.

Thanks to Measure H, the County has moved nearly 10,000 people into permanent housing since July 2017, and placed nearly 18,000 people into temporary housing during the same period. More than 700 outreach workers are now working across the County helping homeless residents access housing and support services.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas greets residents of a homeless encampment on the first day of the homeless count.

For those unable to participate in the Count, they can still direct street outreach teams to their unhoused neighbors by using a new web portal called Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal or LA-HOP. Funded by Measure H, the mobile-friendly platform empowers members of the general public, first responders and service providers to provide information on homeless persons on the street and request outreach.

LA-HOP is a valuable new tool to get services to vulnerable residents living on the street. It makes it easier and more efficient for the public to request help and have it dispatched to connect homeless persons with outreach workers.

Kingdom Day Parade 2019

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas with street outreach workers and advocates at the 34th Annual Kingdom Day Parade. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

More than a hundred people on the frontlines of helping the homeless – from street outreach workers to advocates – joined Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the 34th annual Kingdom Day Parade, drawing grateful cheers and applause from the crowds in South Los Angeles.

On a day dedicated to paying tribute to the legendary civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Supervisor Ridley-Thomas also found plenty of reasons to celebrate street outreach workers, who fan out across Los Angeles County every day in search of the homeless, build a rapport with them, and offer them a wide range of services, from healthcare to housing.

85 healthcare and housing workers join Supervisor Ridley-Thomas along the parade route. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

About 85 street outreach workers participated in the parade, many of them working for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the LA County Department of Mental Health or working for nonprofits such as HOPICS and St. Joseph Center, contracted by LA County Department of Health Services.

“I believe that involuntary poverty is a form of violence… and homelessness is the most extreme manifestation of involuntary poverty,’” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Together with these street outreach workers, let us all roll up our sleeves, open our hearts, and extend our hands to help our unhoused neighbors.”

United Way of Greater Los Angeles encouraged everyone watching the parade to join its Everyone In campaign, learn more about people experiencing homelessness, stay informed on supportive housing, and seek opportunities to attend community events and advocate for solutions in each neighborhood.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas with Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

The Kingdom Day parade marked what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 90th birthday. It featured Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts as grand marshal, and the theme: “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Democracy.”

The parade traveled on MLK Boulevard, Crenshaw Boulevard and Vernon Avenue, ending with a festival at Leimert Park. Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer on dozens of marching bands, floats, equestrian units, drill teams, dance groups, and dignitaries, including LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby and LA City Police Chief Michel Moore, just to name a few.