As early as 2021, construction is scheduled to begin for a $1.3-billion light rail line on Van Nuys Boulevard, connecting Metrolink's Sylmar/San Fernando Station to the Orange Line busway.  In advance of that date, the City of Los Angeles is taking steps to plan for new development surrounding each of its 14 stations.

Yesterday, City Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez and Nury Martinez - who represent the communities that will be served by the light rail line - introduced a motion calling for the creation of a "Transit Oriented District" specific plan to guide physical and economic development along the corridor.

"This major transit investment will spur important growth and requires forward-thinking land use planning by the City with active participation of community members and stakeholders," writes Rodriguez and Martinez.

The motion, which has been referred to the City Council's Planning and Land Use Committee for consideration, would require a report back within 30 days from city staff on estimated costs and staffing needs to create the specific plan, as well as potential funding avenues.

Metro estimates that the Van Nuys light rail line will open in 2027, and has the potential to attract 47,000 daily passengers by the year 2040.  Stations will be located at major street crossings in the communities of Sylmar, San Fernando, Pacoima, Arleta, Panorama City, and Van Nuys.

Project costs will be covered by a combination of state and local funds.

In a bid to better capitalize on Metro's new transit infrastructure, the City of Los Angeles has either initiated or adopted similar "transit neighborhood plans," for several rail and bus rapid transit lines - including the Expo Line, the Orange Line, the Purple Line, and even the "Rail-to-River" active transportation corridor.  In addition to setting parameters for land use and development, these plans also set guidelines for streetscape improvements and landscaping.

The only plan that has been adopted to date - the Expo Line Transit Neighborhood Plan - would accommodate for up to 6,000 new residents and 14,300 new jobs near rail stops located at Westwood Boulevard, Sepulveda Boulevard, and Bundy Drive.  However, the plan is currently the subject of a lawsuit which seeks to overturn its new zoning regulations.