Both CD5 Council Candidates Oppose Pico-Olympic Plan

I may not be thrilled with the reasoning, but each of the last two evenings one of the two finalists for the Fifth District City Council race attended one of the LADOT’s open meetings and voiced opposition to the project in it’s current form.

Reporting on last night’s meeting, Ted Rogers, of BikinginLA fame writes of candidate David Vahedi:

As for Vahedi, he said that he absolutely opposed the project in its
present form, and pointed out that he had filed the suit that initially
halted the project. He said that he would support the elimination of
on-street parking, which could add as much as 25% additional capacity
during rush hour, but only after the city builds off-street parking
facilities to compensate for the loss of parking spaces and prevent
spill-over into the surrounding neighborhoods. And he noted that he and
his family would be personally affected by this plan, as both he and
his father live in the area bounded by Pico and Olympic.

An evening earlier I ran into Paul Koretz, Vahedi’s opponent, who gave me a similar statement:

"I thought from Day 1 that removing parking without plans for an
adequate alternative was a disaster…it make so little sense; I can’t
believe it’s still being considered."

Assuming that Bill Rosendahl is still opposed to the plan, and the changes that were made don’t address his concerns; you have to wonder about the politics of Pico-Olympic.  If both of the City Councilmen for the reasons effected oppose the project, and comments at public hearings close to 100% against; why exactly is this plan still being pushed?  Who is the Mayor’s constituency in pushing this plan besides Santa Monica residents who "deserve" congestion relief on their trips downtown?

  • “Who is the Mayor’s constituency in pushing this plan besides Santa Monica residents who “deserve” congestion relief on their trips downtown?”

    You could ask this about a lot of the transportation plans this city makes. The quick answer is, I believe, “the press and the prime directive at the LADOT”.

    The press love to cover campaign promise stories, whether the promises were good ideas or not is immaterial. The mayor promised to fight a war on congestion with his ridiculous “Tiger Team” of freeway builders and ATSAC money wasters to time light the lights in L.A.

    The LADOT has an institutionalized anti-populist bent. One could convincingly argue that the department was created to uniformly exclude the masses in Los Angeles from even being able to publicly debate the merits of automobile projects. It is a fair characterization of the DOT to say, “All they care about is moving more cars on LA’s streets”. The DOT does other stuff, but really this is what a big chunk of the organization is about.

    It takes enormous amounts of political pressure, from moneyed locals that vote, to turn L.A.’s political class around on idiotic schemes like this.

    The press are going to cover stories of promises never fulfilled, so I understand Villaraigosa’s tack as far as that goes. What is surprising to me is that the council and mayor doesn’t more openly war with city departments that openly defy their directives. What the DOT routinely plans in L.A. flies in the face of the most basic principles of good governance. You couldn’t create a better engine at ruining local economies and quality of life. How can the LADOT’s budget not get crushed every year by angry pols?

    If they are worried about transportation planning and grant money going going away – there isn’t much true planning going on at the DOT in the first place and there are all sorts of ways around the potential loss of grant money.

  • Who is the Mayor’s constituency in pushing this plan?

    How about me? I live Rosendahl’s district and work in CD5. I think Pico-Olympic one-way optimization is a fabulous idea and street parking is a ridiculous use of resources in the middle of a major city. We have a real gridlock issue and we need real solutions… not punt it down the road for someone else to solve. Optimizing traffic flow on Pico and Olympic for one-way traffic (but still maintaining 2 counter flow lanes) is a good compromise short of turning them into mini-freeways (which I don’t think anyone is still advocating).

    We could increase the street capacity and smooth traffic flow significantly if we re-stripe Pico and Olympic into 5+2 (with elimination of center medium) and still have enough room for a future bus and bike lane and left turn cutout at major intersections.

  • My biggest problem with this plan in attending the meeting last night was the attitude expressed repeatedly by LADOT and the consultants — “We don’t know if this will work, but we need to try it and see.” Call me crazy, but I’d prefer to see some real confidence that something is going to work before we start making any changes.

    This whole process has been backward. Instead of gathering public comments at the end of the process, they should have held meetings like this at the beginning to gather input. Then they could have gone away to actually study the situation, and design a solution that addresses the traffic problems as well as the concerns of residents and business people.

    At this point, the best answer is to kill this plan now. Then start over from the beginning, and design a complete livable streets plan that would enhance the local neighborhoods and serve all road users — cyclists, pedestrians and transit users included — rather than focus strictly on moving as many cars through the area as quickly as possible.

  • alex

    You guys are kidding, right? The main people supporting this plan are real estate developers. If more traffic can flow through our streets, then more tall buildings can built in the same amount of space. That’s why any traffic improvements realized from this plan would be temporary — just like when they widened the freeways.

  • angle

    This is for bzcat and any others that might share his/her view:

    Increasing a street’s motorcar capacity always results in more gridlock, because the initial speed boost that motorists get on the “improved” road encourages more drivers to use it, until it reaches gridlock status again (this is assuming there’s no bottlenecks created at some point on the route).

    Meanwhile, the business corridor along the “improved” route becomes a no-man’s land, as the increased speed and aggression of the daily auto commuters discourages local pedestrians and cyclists from using the road. In short order, it becomes a virtual necessity to drive past miles of windowless storage facilities and boarded-up businesses in order to get to a large-scale shopping plaza for one’s basic needs. This, of course, results in yet more congestion.

    Street and freeway widening/capacity increase schemes are a fool’s game.

  • Alex,

    Your comment is not true. From a developers standpoint there are many other factors that weigh much heavier than simply the number of car trips past a given parcel of land.

    Blaming too many problems on businessmen who build buildings at a profit is a fun game in L.A., but it tends to leave you with nowhere to go – as developers are blamed for both wanting more car trips and wanting less car trips around their proposed projects.

    You need to address what is going to happen in the right-of-way, and what you’d like to see vs. what is planned, to be effective in your criticism.

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