May the new year be better than the last
2018 proved to be another tough year for the city of Angels.
We watched devastating fires sweep across our hillsides. We struggled to build more homesto address an increasingly escalating crisis. We gasped as the Dodgers lost the World Series for the second year in a row.
But fear not, Angelenos, the future is bright! From the nearing completion of game-changing transportation projects, to the reopening of beloved cultural icons, to policies that will make the city more accessible to all, this will be the year that reaffirms LA’s role as the best place in the world to live—and these 19 things will make it even better.
1. Metro’s big bus plan. Promising nothing less than a total overhaul of the region’s bus network, Metro’s NextGen bus study intends to make sweeping improvements needed to reverse years of ridership declines. The 18-month study continues with 10 community meetings during January and February, with some major changes to be rolled out by the end of the year.
2. The Music Center Plaza reopens. Essentially untouched since 1964, the sweeping midcentury plaza between the Mark Taper Forum and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion will complete its $40 million renovation this year, welcoming a restaurant and wine bar as well as more seating and much-needed public restrooms.
3. A new bridge over the LA River. Construction is already underway on a bridge over the LA River that will help pedestrians, cyclists, and horses get from Atwater Village to Griffith Park. (In the meantime, keep track of the ongoing river path closures.) It’s the first of three new pedestrian bridges planned for the river: An Elysian Valley-Cypress Parkconnection is also under construction; another will connect Glendale to Griffith Park. The Sixth Street Viaduct connecting the Arts District to Boyle Heights will be open next year.
5. More affordable housing near transit. Over 9,000 units have been approved by the transit-oriented communities program, which gives developers incentives for building within a half-mile of transit stops, and 20 percent of those units are set aside for low-income families. And now there’s the new approved Expo Line plan, which allows builders to add more density near five light-rail stations, including a tiny upzoned triangle-shaped pocket of West LA. It’s no Minneapolis, but it’s a start.
6. Tartine’s Manufactory. The crown jewel of The Row’s Arts District complex will finally open in 2019 with 40,000 square feet of coffee roasting, bread baking, and multiple dining options from the famed San Francisco bakery Tartine and Phoenix-based Pizzeria Bianco. Now if only The Row could do something about its transit-unfriendliness.
7. LA finally addressing its tree problem. It’s no secret that LA’s tree canopy is in serious trouble. In December of 2018 the city released a “first step” plan for a badly needed urban forest management plan and posted an “emergency” job description for a citywide forest officer. City leaders are also paying more attention to the problem: 14 ficuses slated to be chopped down will be saved, thanks to a hail-mary from Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu, and city foresters are demonstrating creative paving solutionsto keep mature trees while fixing sidewalks.
8. A film museum in an old department store. Set to open in 2019, a Renzo Piano-designed addition to the LACMA campus will host the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum in the former May building and a giant orb-like appendage.
9. Target Husk comes back to life—for real this time. Consider it a Christmas miracle. In the final days of 2018, a judge ruled that construction can resume on an infamously unfinished East Hollywood Target. Hopefully it starts with reopening the Sunset Boulevard-adjacent sidewalk that’s been closed for years.
10. More backyard cottages. Thanks to a streamlined permitting process and several local incentives, the city’s planning department estimates that over 5,000 ADUs were permitted in 2018—at least 15 times as many as the year before. That could make for a significant number of units to hit the rental market this year.
11. Electric bikes. At the end of 2018, Jump’s dockless electric bikes started to creep into city limits as part of LA’s new dockless permit system. Metro Bike also added a limited number of electric bikes to its system, and announced plans to expand bike share hubs into East Hollywood, Koreatown, Silver Lake, and Los Feliz. Scooters are great, but e-bikes could be a game-changer for LA’s hills and long distances.
12. Street vending for all. The legalization of street vending at the end of 2018 was a huge win for the sidewalk entrepreneurs who power the local economy. Rules went into effect January 1, and now the city will work to formalize the permitting and regulatory framework that will ensure LA’s vending culture remains vibrant, equitable, and widespread.