Bill Rosendahl, Unplugged in Del Rey

3_27_09_rosendahl.jpgPhoto:UWEC

Last night, Westside Councilman Bill Rosendahl held a forum for residents of Del Rey to discuss their traffic concerns with officials with Caltrans and LADOT.  At first, I wondered why it was called a "traffic" and not "transportation" forum, but I soon learned why as the only question that wasn’t about moving cars or widenings was from a gentleman complaining about planted medians.

However, the forum also provided a chance to observe the presumed-future-Transportation Committee Chair on his home turf, without being surrounded by other Councilmembers or the pretenses of City Hall.  And, he was pretty much the same guy that I’ve gotten to know from countless trips to City Hall and various other community hearings.  He pushed his favorite transit projects, both bus and rail, and bemoaned the role of city and state politics.  In typical Rosendahl fashion, he even turned the disappointment of not being appointed to the Metro Board into a positive…he’s not going to owe the Mayor anything as Transportation Committee Chair.

So why is there so much car congestion on the Westside?  Rosendahl blamed the planners of the 1970’s and 1980’s for not building the transit projects that are now being plannned.

Rosendahl pushed four major transit projects as the best way to "fix" Del Rey traffic disaster, even as the community asked more and more questions about fixing bottlenecks.  The Councilman was more than receptive to relieving bottlnecks, but when discussing his own transportation plan stuck to what are probably old favorites to Streetsblog readers: a Green Line Extension to LAX, a completed Subway to the Sea, an Expo Line that reaches Santa Monica and a Rapid Bus Line for Venice.

He also pushed the building of more affordable housing so that the people that many of those who work in the 11th District can live here.  He also argued for better senior housing so that "we don’t kick people out once they turn 60."

Meanwhile, the Del Rey community is one primed for transportation reform.  While there were a lot of concerns about car travel time, there were equally as many complaints about the secondary impacts of the highways on their lives.  The chief complaint: the noise.  All hours of the day and night, highway traffic intrudes on their lives, be it the 90 or the 405, a lack of sound walls and constant traffic has made the constant noise pollution a part of their lives.  The noise is so bad that in the words of one resident, "My dog won’t even go out at night."

While Caltrans seemed interested in rechecking to see if soundwalls are needed in this section, the long term issues remain for Del Rey.  What can truly be done to relieve car congestion, and what effect, if any, long-term impact will there be from eliminating bottlenecks.

  • Oh dear.

    The automotive entitled have a hard time grocking the fact that sometimes there ISN’T always a road based solution to congestion. “But what about my single-occupancy vehicle???”

    On one hand they want more road building to relieve bottlenecks, but then they complain about the effects of more highways.

    Rosendahl should be on the Metro board. There is one more project in addition to his four which would help. A Sepulveda project that goes from LAX to Sylmar would be the north-south link in all this. But the start of that is on the tail end of Measure-R funding.

  • I grew up on the westside, prior to it becoming an enclaves of obnoxiousness – but the heavily pro-car bent of aging baby boomers is hard to miss in this area.

  • ubrayj02, your comment is so dead-on. Santa Monica on traffic has sadly often been less progressive than Beverly Hills. Also SM has all but said no to a Wilshire bus lane to preserve parking, even during rush hour.

    I once attended a Santa Monica city council meeting and one of the items heard before the one I was there to speak on was a NIMBY squabble about renovation of a building, and most of it turned on traffic and parking issues. At one point someone whined if only Santa Monica had adequate public transit, parking etc. concerns wouldn’t be a bone of contention. Since Big Blue Bus is among the best providers in the reach, often highly praised and winner of the APTA bus agency award multiple times I was amazed someone would make such a clueless comment. But it reflects the mindset ubrayj02 cites.

  • I meant to say best providers in the region…

  • What ever, I get through Marina Del Rey bottlenecks just fine, oh yeah I’m on a bicycle splitting lanes. Lincoln Blvd will never be free of congestion so long as nearly every trip is a car trip. It’s also technically a class III bike route, which means here ride in this poorly designed shoulder with pot holes you can fall into that probably was last repaved before I was born amongst irate Marina Del Rey drivers furiously trying to shave 3 seconds off their shitty commute. I can handle this fine, but it doesn’t surprise me that few cyclists ride there, and when they do it’s usually on the sidewalk.

  • “At one point someone whined if only Santa Monica had adequate public transit, parking etc. concerns wouldn’t be a bone of contention.”

    —————

    The problem is that people fight the improvements that would make public transit more “adequate” for them, like bus-only lanes.

    What some people are saying when they say the above is that if public transit would only give them a one-seat door-to-door ride on demand, from their door to their destination, without having to transfer, or to walk more that five feet, or to sit next to a person who looks different from them, it would be “adequate”. Well, these people might not be aware of it, but we already have that form of public transportation. It’s called a taxicab and it is understandably expensive.

    When there was previous discussion of bus only lanes on Lincoln, the NIMBYs and automobile-entitled came out of the woodwork to oppose them. (Another one of Bill Bauer’s nonsensical, anti-transit, anti-pedestrian rants in the Santa Monica Daily Press comes to mind.)

    This mindset the biggest obstacle to the people who advocate bus only lanes as an inexpensive alternative to rail. While I support bus only lanes, there is very little will to stand up to angry motorists who don’t like a lane of traffic taken away and panicky shop owners who lose sacred parking spaces. The previous bus only lanes on Wilshire in Brentwood only lasted about 30 minutes because of this.

  • Spokker

    My old man isn’t the kind of guy who, when you see him, looks like he is into mass transit. He grew up in North Orange County and came from a Hispanic working class family.

    He’s been driving all his life and never took mass transit. Last year I took him to San Diego on the Surfliner. That part I wasn’t worried about. But I was a little uneasy on how he would react to the light rail and to a greater extent, the bus ride to Balboa Park.

    Much to my surprise he thought it was great. He said there should be more trains because he loved not having to drive to San Diego or drive to get around San Diego. He even struck up conversations with other passengers on the trolley. His complaint was that the train back to Orange County didn’t leave late enough. Otherwise he’d watch a Padres game.

    No, he didn’t trade in his car for a bus pass that day, but he is perceptive to mass transit issues, and voted yes on Prop 1A. He said if any other good transit measures come up he’ll vote yes for them. But the point is, he’s willing to take mass transit sometimes, which is something I’m willing to accept from Southern California. I’m not expecting everyone to donate their car to a non-profit and buy a monthly pass, but taking transit one or two days of week is an improvement over what’s going on now.

    I don’t think there is a shortage of people like him. Sure, the car-culture-crazies are out there, but I think a lot of people are sympathetic to mass transit funding, and although they aren’t exactly going to switch to the car-free lifestyle, they also aren’t going to block buses or trains from getting their fair share.

    They just need a little push. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to stop demonizing drivers.

  • Fighting this heavy pro-car populism is best achieved by connecting with different moneyed interests.

    Primarily, the health care and insurance industries have already launched mutli-million dollar campaigns to fight heart disease and other affects of a sedentary lifestyle. Pulling their money into the pro-transit fight might allow enough voter education to allow politicians the cover they need to make better transportation decisions.

    Secondarily, I think that the case needs to be made, slowly, block by block, with local businesses that car parking is not necessarily their lifeblood. Transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists are a less capital-intensive bunch of customers – they don’t require as much flashy advertising or government infrastructure spending to find your store.

    Using resources from the health industries’ campaigns to change merchant’s minds about parking and automobile access to their stores would, I think, go a long way in combating the pro-car tilt of so many development hearings and public planning debates.

    Finally, waiting for baby boomers to die off is also a viable option. The generation after these folks understands what a raw deal we’re in for when we get set to (not) retire. A lot of us grew up getting environamentalism drilled into our heads. Younger generations are, generally, okay with sacrificing car-access for other types of mobility – as long as it is a viable option. We weren’t sold “The American Dream” as heavily as the older generation were.

  • Spokker

    “Finally, waiting for baby boomers to die off is also a viable option.

    A lot of us grew up getting environamentalism drilled into our heads. Younger generations are, generally, okay with sacrificing car-access for other types of mobility”

    I disagree completely. I think young people are just as bad as the baby boomer generation. Being a 17-18 year old without a car is the death of your social life for many kids.

    But as I said above, I think there are many people who can be swayed. I don’t think all is lost. The point is creating choice. There will always be people who will drive no matter what, no matter what generation they belong to. I just want to see equality between the different modes of transportation. I don’t want to see cars go away, not at all.

  • I guess what I was referring to was younger folks don’t care to show up at meetings and ask for more “free” parking and wider roads – they aren’t as engaged in the politics around transportation. If they are engaged politically it will be around other topics: crime, environmentalism, abortion/abortion rights, and stuff like that.

    I think they’re more practical, right off the bat, because they didn’t live in the post-WWII era when our traditional economy was put on the back-burner for oil-fueled consumerism. As 20th century consumerism winds down, I think we have a chance to change the fundamental terms of debate in transportation.

  • I think Spokker makes an excellent point. The vast majority of people haven’t spent much time thinking about the details of why mass transit would be better for society and the environment and traffic etc. They just want to get from home to work and back as fast as possible. On the west side, where there is no rail and taking the bus ALWAYS means taking way more time than if you drive, most people have not even considered public transit as a possible solution, because it hasn’t solved anything for them in their neighborhood, at least as far as they can see.

    Give them a ride on a light rail or an express bus or a subway, and they might start to see things differently.

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