Billionaire developer Rick Caruso (owner of The Grove and Americana malls, presumed eventual mayoral candidate) is a man who loves trolleys. We'll leave the psychoanalysis to others, but according to LA Business Journal (sub. req.), Caruso revealed big new trolley plans at a Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce meeting last month: he wants to extend the trolley line that runs through The Grove into a two-mile loop down Third Street to the Beverly Center, and down Fairfax to LACMA and the Miracle Mile, at a cost of $80 to 90 million. Or rather, he wants someone to extend it--he's just offering to chip in for "some" of the cost. There seems to be a fair amount of support from local businesses for a transit option that gets people circulating around the shopping, dining, and cultural offerings in the neighborhood, but everyone else seems to prefer a trolley-bus option that could run every 15 minutes on the weekends.
Trolley buses, like those in Beverly Hills, are admittedly way less fun than their track-based cousins, but are also more flexible, and would be much cheaper and quicker to get up and running. Traffic would also be a concern (of course). Diana Plotkin, the lawsuit-happy president of the Beverly Wilshire Homes Association, says that "There's so much traffic now that the residents can't even use the major streets. I can't even imagine how much worse it would be if you run a rail line right down the middle of Third Street." Caruso, however, thinks ridership will be so strong that the trolley will decrease traffic, and also make LA great: "when you look at the other great cities--San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, just to name a few ... they all have rail streetcars. Los Angeles has so little in this regard." So how about it--does LA need a mall-connecting trolley to compete with the big boys in Portland?
· Clang Clang Clank [LABJ]