The issue of the proposed North Portal location for the Metro Purple Line Wilshire/Rodeo Station continues to lead local agendas. At the City Council Study Session on Oct. 29, the Council reviewed three potential locations for the site. The meeting was, in reality, a discussion of which of the three possible sites (or all) should be subject to an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which would then determine the actual location of the future North Portal.
“I think we’re all in agreement that there needs to be a North Portal,” Mayor John A. Mirisch said, after the public and other council members weighed in. “We don’t want to have passengers filtering out into the south part of town. That’s clear. The question is, where do we put it? Construction in the area and the burden on local businesses has long been a concern, and this meeting proved no different, as business person after business person approached the council with pleas to not consider any proposition that involves the permanent closing off of Canon and Wilshire Boulevard.
One of the proposals entails the full, permanent closure of North Canon Drive at Wilshire Boulevard to allow for construction of a pedestrian plaza and/or cul-de-sac.
Actually, each of the proposed portals is a “half portal,” characterized by one up-going escalator, stairs going down, and an elevator to meet the ADA requirements. A full portal features elevators both going up and going down.
The three potential portal alternatives have already been the subject of extensive studies and opportunities for public participation. On Sept. 19, a public scoping meeting included an open house, a presentation and public commentary.
Forty-two individuals provided comments from Sept. 5 to Oct. 7. Four agencies sent formal letters in response to the Notice of Preparation (NOP), and 21 members of the public provided comments during the scoping period, before or after the meeting.
The public comments varied insofar as support or opposition to a North Portal. The most requested amenity for the station was a public restroom. On that topic, the Mayor had this to say during the Study Session:
“As for the issue of restrooms, well, you think you want it there so that you won’t use the businesses. But, it’s not a straightforward thing. There are reasons they [portals] don’t have restrooms. There are security risks involved.”
The restroom issue aside, the public weighed in on other features on their “wish list” for the portal during the comment period. Those features include infrastructure for bikes, Uber/Lyft drop-off areas, parking structures, security, and finally, a visitor center, first-last mile shuttle buses and first-last mile bike share.
Residents, business owners and interested stakeholders also expressed the importance of design and of ensuring that the station is iconic and accessible for disabled, elderly, children as well as bike riders.
At the Study Session, Mirisch noted the essential question: “Where is the right location?” He added, “I’m not going to support any thing that clearly all the businesses are opposed to, because also it’s the uncertainty … they’re going to lose potential tenants, just because it’s on the table. They’re already suffering because of the closure [current construction obstructions].”
He added that it is actually “best to have four portals, at each corner, so people don’t have to cross the street” and that the issue came up in initial conversations with Metro. He noted that the Council has a consensus for now that there will be no permanent shutdown of Canon, and he emphasized his strong preference for Beverly Drive as the better option. North Beverly is the better option, with no closing down of Canon.