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  • Jane St. Michael

Rail~Volution: TOD comes to L.A.

Brian Vanneman traveled to Los Angeles to attend Rail~Volution (, an annual gathering of professionals in the transportation, planning, and transit-oriented development (TOD) fields.

There, he presented on the topic of food retailers as a key element of great transit-oriented communities and hea

rd about successful TOD efforts in L.A. and elsewhere. Brian’s presentation highlighted some of Leland Consulting Group’s work for the City of Portland and other cities on the importance of grocery stores and food retailers to great neighborhoods, and tools for attracting and building these stores.

Hold on. TOD in L.A.? No, that is not a typo or a contradiction in terms. As congestion in the capital of car culture has grown ever more intense, the city and county have moved to build a robust network of subway, light rail, and bus lines. L.A.’s population has responded, with high transit ridership in some key corridors, and revitalization and redevelopment taking place in downtown, Hollywood, Koreatown, and other areas. The Wilshire Boulevard corridor alone carries 80,000 transit passengers per day, and ridership is expected to grow by 20 percent or more as service and the rider experience is improved over the next year.

High speed transit now connects the beach at Santa Monica to the Disney Concert Hall in downtown to the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, home of the Oscars. So: Bring your suit, black tie, and transit pass.

Brian also heard from community leaders in Chinatown and East Los Angeles who are excited about new ways to get around and experience their neighborhoods while avoiding the congestion that has increased on the roads over the past decade. As one developer said, some Angelenos have decided that a 15-minute commute and a balcony beats a two-hour commute and suburban back yard that they never have time to enjoy.

Measure J, a sales tax extension, which Angelenos will vote on this November, proposes to generate about $90 billion for subway, rail, bus, and other transportation projects throughout the region, and could be another major leap forward for L.A.

For more information, please contact Brian (

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