Transit oriented development and neighborhood change along the light rail system : the social equity impact of the Metro Blue line in Los Angeles
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This report examines how the neighborhoods along the Metro Blue line have changed over the past two decades, and reflects on the current emerging issue in Transit oriented development (TOD), which is promoting equitable transit neighborhoods. The primary study area includes the route of the Metro Blue line through Los Angeles County where the most economically disadvantaged and marginalized communities are located in the county. In order to investigate the impact of the rail line effectively, the concept of Walksheds are used as the units of analysis, which is defined as the area within a half-mile walking distance from the transit station. Focusing on social equity impact of the transit system operation, the comparison analysis between Los Angeles County and the twenty-two Walksheds of each station in the line evaluates the changes in the close-by neighborhoods while also looking at various social demographic indicators that can reflect demographic shifts using decennial Census data of 1990, 2000, and 2010. While looking at the change through time series data analysis vertically, the performance of each station area is examined horizontally. Therefore, comparative analysis is conducted in four stages to figure out the extent to which the neighborhoods have changed, how rapidly the change occurred and whether the neighborhood change occurred in a positive way or not. The result from the four comparative analyses indicates that the Metro Blue line did not work as a catalyst for promoting economic opportunity in the region in spite of the initial expectations of its advocates. In the beginning of the rail operation of 1990, the neighborhoods along the rail line were excluded and poverty was widespread in the region. However, even after two decades, the twenty-two Walksheds along the Metro Blue Line still remain as undesirable places to live and marginalized as compared to the rest of the county. Moreover, the neighborhood change in the twenty-two Walksheds is negatively linked to the Walksheds based on the result of the comparative analysis.