Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Gold Line and Monrovia

Pasadena isn't the only city to face questions of how to handle new development. In fact, with the Gold Line extension, the debate over high-density, public transit-linked growth is running out to communities throughout the Foothill Cities. Monrovia is no exception.

On Monday, the city held the first of a series of public meetings to give Joe Citizen a chance to comment on the city's General Plan (Emmanuel Parker, SGVT). The laundry list of issues the city faces should be familiar by now: future traffic growth, high-density developments, proximity to public transportation, among others. Like Pasadena, the archetype Foothill City for high-density development, plans are afoot to create a "transit-oriented urban village."

The Station Square Transit Village will consist of an 80-acre transit-oriented urban village designed around the proposed Gold Line light rail station in Monrovia.

The village will be south of the Foothill (210) Freeway and north of Duarte Road, and could include as many as 3,000 new homes and businesses. No specific development projects within the transit village are currently proposed.

Not to rain on any parades, but "south of the 210 Freeway" is a serious hike from Old Town for the casual pedestrian. To put an urban village down there is one thing, but to make to use the Gold Line, as the route is currently planned, to get to Old Town sounds like a time-hungry enterprise. Also, consider the marked difference in Pasadena between the two areas on either side of the 210 Freeway (focusing, for the sake of illustration, on the area near Old Town Pasadena). It's an updated version of living on the wrong side of the tracks as the rental prices demonstrate.

While Monrovia south of the 210 isn't a wasteland, I'd be surprised to hear a resident tell me it's reasonable to expect to walk from below the freeway into Old Town (I agree with Claremont Insider on this one). Of course, this could just be short-sightedness on my part. One could imagine a future with South Myrtle built up attractively, with a half-mile or so jaunt up to Old Town be no more tedious or taxing than strolling along the Colorado strip.

Even as the Gold Line edges eastward, it's still hardly clear that it will be the messianic cure-all that some are touting it to be. And those planning 3,000 new homes and businesses should consider how heavily they're relying on the promise and premise of light rail.

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