Yesterday was an especially nice homecoming to UCLA Law for me, to be able to speak about Railtown, the book that I started as a law student there and was only able to continue due to the support of the environmental law program. I got to see former classmates, law school staff members, interviewees for the book, colleagues, and of course the next generation of law and planning students who are deeply engaged with the issues of transportation and development in Los Angeles. Plus, you can’t beat talking about rail in the city where it’s happening, to the people directly affected by the decisions that have been and will be made on Metro Rail.
A big thank you to Sean Hecht, who facilitated the grant funding I needed to complete the book (and organized yesterday’s event), and especially Susan Prager, now dean of Southwestern Law School and my former professor at UCLA Law, who taught the seminar that started this book (a seminar paper that I kind of went nuclear on). Giving a talk with the two of them in the room was a truly meaningful way to complete the circle on the project.
Overall, I enjoyed hearing people’s questions about the topic. Like: why does it take so long to build these rail lines? (Answer: in part, lack of political pressure to speed them up.) What routes should be built that aren’t under immediate consideration? (Answer: West Hollywood.) Any chance of connecting Westwood to the Valley by rail? (Answer: possibly, via a privately funded toll-road tunnel with rail attached.) And many other good ones.
Earlier in the day I recorded a podcast on the book, so stay tuned for that unveiling. And later in the day I guest-taught a seminar at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment, with any incredibly attentive and impressive group of undergrads. So it was a full day.
Hopefully I’ll be back down in L.A. again soon to talk rail. But it will be hard to beat yesterday.