More Livable Boulevards for West L.A.?

The Los Angeles City Council is poised to pass what could be groundbreaking legislation next week, and based on public statements about the legislation, may not even know it. Next Tuesday, the Council is scheduled to vote on a motion that would spend $2 million to study "West Los Angeles Rail Corridor and Connectivity Analysis." While promoting this plan, Councilmember and resolution author Bill Rosendahl noted the importance of having one vision to tie together all of the rail and bus projects on the Westside.  However, the resolution’s mandate is also to study the options to create "Livable Boulevards" in West Los Angeles. Following yesterday’s ribbon cutting at Bimini Place, Los Angeles is re-positioning itself to change the way it thinks about urban development and transportation.

A Livable Boulevard is a street that isn’t just designed to move cars, its designed as a center of place for transportation and the community. Livable Boulevards provide equal access to many transportation modes including walking, biking and transit. To protect pedestrians and cyclists, streets also have traffic calming and landscaping designed to slow down traffic. Development along Livable Boulevards emphasize mixed-uses, so that people can live, work, shop and be entertained without needing a car.

The concept of Livable Boulevards isn’t new to transportation reformers in West Los Angeles. In the fall of 2006, the Westside Cities Neighborhood Councilheld a symposium arguing that for too long Westside cities thought about streets just as car throughways and not as community resources.  Rosendahl has a history of supporting the concept that streets are for people not just cars.  Rosendahl has supported "Livable Boulevard" concepts as an outspoken advocate for more transit options for the Westside, and by fighting the city’s plan to speed up traffic on Pico and Olympic Boulevards.

Los Angeles has been slower than most major American cities to embrace multi-modalism. Metro’s current draft long range plan devotes less than 1% of its budget toward bicycle and pedestrian projects. If the Council passes this proposal and the LADOT follows its mandate; perhaps the City of Angels will have a blueprint to help it say goodbye to a transportation culture dominated by the car and hello to more streets that are built for people and not cars.

To read more about Livable Boulevards, read this white paper presented at the Westside Cities Neighborhood Council symposium.