DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - More than two years after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Expo Line opened, a controversy has erupted as two Downtown entities are vying to have their name attached to a station at 23rd Street. 

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Orthopaedic Institute for Children tends to injured and mostly uninsured kids, so having its name on a Metro map and stop is critical, said Michael Sullivan, the facility’s vice president. Less than 1,000 feet away is Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, where the bulk of the 20,000 students arrive to campus via public transit. That means the vocational school should have station naming rights, said Larry Frank, Trade-Tech’s president. 

Metro has rejected the idea of putting both names on the 23rd Street Station, Sullivan said. He reasoned that because Orthopaedic Hospital gave up its driveway, moved its main entrance and changed its business address all to accommodate the station, the medical facility’s name should be on the sign. 

Metro officials declined to comment on the situation.

Additionally, Sullivan said that when the hospital finishes the second phase of an ongoing construction project, patients will have direct access from the 23rd Street stop to the hospital’s Urgent Care building. 

The 23rd Street Station is on South Flower Street between West Adams Boulevard and West 23rd Street. A related and complicating factor is another nearby station. A Blue Line stop, labeled Grand Avenue, is on Washington Boulevard between South Grand and South Flower Street. It is less than a quarter-mile from the 23rd Street stop.

Sullivan suggested a compromise, with Trade-Tech having its name affixed to the Blue Line Grand Avenue station, and the hospital’s moniker placed on the 23rd Street station. 

Frank rejects that idea, saying it is a “wayfinding strategy” to have academic institutions’ names associated with Metro stops. Limiting Trade-Tech to the Grand Avenue stop, he said, would mean that students coming from the Westside and Crenshaw District via the Expo Line might not know where they are going and when to get off the train. 

Frank also stated that the University of Southern California has a double signage situation, with its name on the Expo Line’s Jefferson/USC and Expo Park/USC stations.

“There are eight stops in the MTA list that are named after colleges or universities, so there is both internal interest and external interest for some recognition,” Frank said.

Longstanding Players

The battle pits two longstanding but growing institutions against each other. Orthopaedic Hospital has been in Downtown Los Angeles for 103 years, and in addition to its coming Urgent Care building, it will break ground this year on a new surgical center.

Trade-Tech has been in Downtown for almost 90 years, and offers training in fields including auto mechanics and the culinary arts. In 2010, it completed a $145 million renovation that created two five-story structures.

In an effort to accommodate both sides, the offices of County Supervisor Gloria Molina and Mayor Eric Garcetti met on May 20 with representatives from the school and hospital. 

“We are determined to achieve a compromise and, given that all parties have long-standing working relationships, are confident we can arrive at a solution that works for everyone,” said Roxane Márquez, senior communications deputy for Molina.

She added that the issue, postponed from May, is slated to be discussed during the June 26 Metro board meeting. 

Metro’s station naming policy, according to its blog The Source, includes a procedure for seeking community input on station names, and requires that any changes to an existing station name be authorized by a two-thirds vote of the agency’s Board of Directors. 

In an email to Los Angeles Downtown News, a Garcetti spokesman, Oliver DelGado, said Metro staff is assessing the issue before it is brought to the board. He said the mayor, a member of the board, looks forward to reviewing the staff’s recommendation.

While one suggestion is to place both names plus 23rd Street on one stop, Sullivan said caution should be taken when considering acronyms. He said something like 23rd/LATTC/OIC could be confusing to a family that uses English as a second language. 

Sullivan said he appreciates Trade Tech’s mission and need for successful marketing, but he hopes that school officials will take the hospital’s patients into account.

“In the spirit of being a good neighbor, and of providing care to an underserved population, I hope they can come to the table with a bigger heart, and understand the importance of having our name on the Metro stop,” he said. 

Hilary Norton, chairwoman of the board of trustees for Orthopedic Hospital, believes a compromise is possible, though she declined to state what a potentially agreed-upon name would be.

donna@downtownnews.com

Twitter: @donnadowntown

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2014