Marc Ambinder | The Week

In car-favoring Los Angeles, it’s hard to find a mass transit project that was easily birthed. Convincing taxpayers who rely on cars to fund projects they won’t use — projects for people who don’t have cars and can’t afford them — is not easy.

And this being California, environmental regulations, enforced by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), are fairly rigorous. Working through the reviews has kept the employment rate high for civil engineers and lawyers. Before construction can begin, the state must certify that the project does not significantly and negatively impact more than a dozen separate quality of life measures.

But the highest hurdle for big transit projects is often their projected influence on the flow of traffic, or what CEQA calls “Level of Service,” or (LOS). The same holds for new properties that are supposed to make the transit experience align with the rest of city life. If you’ve been to Los Angeles, you’ll note how, well, ugly and spartan the rail routes look. One reason: It’s almost impossible to develop properties around them without significantly impinging the flow of traffic. Read more