Brentwood Community Leaders Wants Out of Bus-Only Lanes

The blue represents the areas that community leaders want excluded from the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes project.

It’s official, many Westside neighborhood leaders really don’t want bus-only lanes.

After reading a letter from the Brentwood Community Council, which can be read after the jump, exhorting residents to protest the inclusion of Wilshire Bus-Only lanes in the area “West of the 405,” I made the above map.  It contains all of the areas of Wilshire Boulevard that residents want excluded from the popular project that would set aside a travel lane for buses and bikes from Downtown L.A. all the way to the sea.  Except the areas in blue have either opted out or are pressuring the Metro Board for an exclusion.

So much for Westsiders wanting better transit options.

But not all Brentwood residents agree that removing “their” section of Wilshire Boulevard is a good idea.  Huffington Post columnist Joel Epstein blasts back at the Neighborhood Council in an open letter addressed to his rabbi who has aligned himself with the opponents of the bus-only lanes west of the 405.

Your opposition to Metro’s plans for the BRT through Brentwood says to the community, yes we support bus rapid transit so long as it is not in our backyard.  Every community along Wilshire needs to be part of the solution, including Brentwood and the Condo Canyon, or there is no solution.  Your opposition manifests a level of old school Westside thinking about mobility in LA that I would have hoped had long since died.  For example, instead of seeing the bus lanes as a barrier to car traffic, as a community leader, you could promote greater use of public transportation by encouraging religious school families to commute by bus.

The full text of Epstein’s letter can be found after the Brentwood Community Council letter after the jump.

Let’s look at the map above.  Going from right to left, we start with Beverly Hills, where residents have claimed they really support transit, as long as it doesn’t run at-grade or below its streets.  Beverly Hills has opted out of the project from the beginning.

Next would be the exclusion pushed for by the Condo Canyon residents who also agree that more people should ride buses, but believe the cost of the bus-only lanes would be too high for residents who want to quickly drive places.

Then there’s the area between Veteran Avenue and the 405, which is apparently a fine place for bus-only lanes.

After that, is the area that the Brentwood Community Council wants excluded.  They were unhappy with the trial bus-only lanes and now feel their being “thrown under the bus” by politicians who feel they need to have some bus-only presence on the Westside to preserve federal funding.

The last exclusion is Santa Monica, which has never been part of the project.

Of course, we’re still two days away from the Metro Board Meeting.  That’s plenty of time for the residents between Veteran and the 405 to organize to try and get their stretch of street excluded as well.


Wilshire Blvd. Bus Lanes Will Remove 1/3 of the Roadway for Cars

I need two minutes of your time.

The Metro Transit Authority (MTA) Board is meeting on Thursday, December 9 about a project that would have a severe impact on traffic in Brentwood and West Los Angeles. This project is the Wilshire BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), which would take out lanes of traffic to create dedicated bus lanes on the north and south sides of Wilshire Blvd. from Centinela to the 405 freeway during peak hours (7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm).

Many of you will recall that trial bus lanes were in place on this section of Wilshire Blvd. in 2004 and 2006, and the impact on traffic was severe. In fact, the LADOT (Dept. of Transportation) stated that the bus lanes “caused adverse impacts and significant delays to mixed traffic on Wilshire Blvd as well as parallel streets like Sunset Boulevard,” and Councilman Rosendahl said at the time that the bus lane “has caused more gridlock than it has helped.” Unlike the trials, which implemented bus lanes in one direction or the other (westbound in the morning and eastbound in the evening), the Wilshire BRT would dedicate the curb lanes to buses only in both directions during both peak hours. No Wilshire bus lanes are planned in Santa Monica or Beverly Hills because those cities are not participating in the project. And now it appears that the stretch from Comstock to Selby in Westwood will not have bus lanes, nor an area just east of the 405.   The communities between the 405 and Centinela are being thrown under the bus on this issue!

Excerpts from Zev’s Blog:

Of all the busy intersections in the 38-square-mile area around the proposed subway routes, Wilshire Boulevard west of Veteran Avenue is by far the worst, with daily traffic averaging 122,618 vehicle trips.
“During a typical weekday evening, an auto trip along Wilshire Boulevard from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills takes up to 60 minutes to cover a distance of only 8 miles,” according to the report.

This is NOT an area to remove 1/3 of the roadway available to cars.


Numerous residents and homeowners associations in Westwood, Brentwood, and West LA have already submitted letters of opposition during the scoping and EIR process, but MTA has ignored the concerns, and MTA staff has recommended moving forward with the project west of the 405. If you are concerned, please send an email to the MTA Board and Zev Yaroslavsky, copying the Brentwood Community Council (so we can track how many emails are sent) prior to the MTA Board meeting on December 9. This project will be discussed at that meeting. A draft email follows – – -feel free to edit and express your personal views.


Take action now – email:

To: wilshirebrt@metro.net; zev@bos.lacounty.gov; info@brentwoodcommunitycouncil.org

Subject: Wilshire BRT


I am opposed to implementing dedicated bus lanes west of the 405 freeway as is proposed under the Wilshire BRT project. The streets in our area are already gridlocked, and were even worse when trial bus lanes were in place.The small benefit in time for bus riders will be greatly outweighed by the delay to vehicles on Wilshire and the diversion of traffic onto streets north and south of Wilshire.


[insert name]


More information on the Wilshire BRT can be found at http://www.metro.net/projects/wilshire/wilshire-brt-final-eirea-november-2010/


If you would like to attend the MTA Board Meeting, where you will be able to submit a public comment, it is at 9:30 am on Thursday, December 9 at:

MTA

One Gateway Plaza

Los Angeles, CA 90012-2952


Please pass this email along. Your email, and presence at the Dec 9 meeting, CAN make a difference.


Thank you.
Raymond Klein, Chair
Brentwood Community Council

Please visit our website at www.brentwoodcommunitycouncil.org for real-time traffic information links on the website HOME page for streets such as Sunset, San Vicente, Wilshire, Bundy, and Barrington

Dear Rabbi Feinstein:

I understand that you have publicly aligned yourself with the opponents of the dedicated bus lanes between Centinela and the 405 Freeway on Wilshire Blvd.  As a member of University Synagogue I am disappointed with your opposition and wish you had spoken with me about the BRT before penning your opposition.  I would have liked to have discussed with you how over time a dedicated bus lane will increase mobility along Wilshire rather than reduce it, and how you can be part of that solution.  Equally disappointing is the Brentwood Community Council’s opposition to the dedicated bus lanes.

As you know I am both a University Synagogue member and Brentwood resident.  Please understand that on this issue, you and the Brentwood Community Council do not speak for me or my family.

The Wilshire BRT project will provide LA residents with a travel alternative to car driving and attract more riders, improving air quality and mobility for the region.  On weekdays, approximately 80,000 people already board the bus along Wilshire.  Given the greater capacity of buses to transport commuters, as the region grows, we need to find solutions like the Wilshire BRT that move more people efficiently and cost effectively.

While I look forward to the Westside Subway extension to the VA and ultimately to Santa Monica, near-term projects like the Wilshire BRT along dedicated lanes will improve mobility along notoriously congested Wilshire Blvd.

Your opposition to Metro’s plans for the BRT through Brentwood says to the community, yes we support bus rapid transit so long as it is not in our backyard.  Every community along Wilshire needs to be part of the solution, including Brentwood and the Condo Canyon, or there is no solution.  Your opposition manifests a level of old school Westside thinking about mobility in LA that I would have hoped had long since died.  For example, instead of seeing the bus lanes as a barrier to car traffic, as a community leader, you could promote greater use of public transportation by encouraging religious school families to commute by bus.

The Wilshire BRT serves not just Brentwood, Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades workers and students commuting east but also the tens of thousands of workers commuting west to provide essential services in our communities.

Killing the innovative idea of dedicated lanes on Wilshire leaves us with the status quo, which is simply untenable.  Your position is shortsighted and serves none of us as Angelenos.

Given the weight that your position may carry in the community I hope you will reconsider your position.  There is still time to write or speak out in support of a true BRT for Wilshire Blvd.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Joel Epstein

  • joe

    Maybe this is the reason why mass transit sucks in Los Angeles. Everyone says we need more but nobody wants it close to them.

    for the record, As a resident of the valley

    I will take a subway under my house or school.

    I would enjoy a buslane on any major street.

    and I would welcome any above grade crossing of a light rail.

    I don’t want Carpool lanes converted to toll lanes though.

  • Carlton Glüb

    Didn’t you know? Driving in the right hand parking lane from 7-9 and 4-7 is an inalienable human right enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Marcotico

    Zev is such a coward! He throws his hat in the ring when it is convenient and easy, and takes it back out, at the slightest whiff of controversy. I wonder what a Mike Davis like take on the underlying power dynamics of the Jewish Westside power elite would be on this one. Liberal urban elites when it comes to densification, and real estate, but reactionary Nimbyism when it comes to the transit needed to support it.

  • LAofAnaheim

    You live by the car…you die by the car

  • Matt

    I live just one block north of this section of Wilshire Blvd. and support the bus lanes.

    There is a lot of misinformation about the bus lanes when they were under the experimental project a few years ago. Before the project, these lanes were used for parking 24 hours a day. Yet when they were opened for busses, people claimed traffic worsened, which was not the case as traffic in this corridor has always been horrible (and continues to this day even with the lanes now opened to traffic during rush hour). The traffic is a result of the 405 freeway and the VA, which blocks street access between Westwood and Brentwood.

    The bus lanes are really necessary once the subway is built to the VA as this will allow workers and residents in the area west of the VA to access the station.

    People just hate watching a bus go by their BMW in a special lane. That is why the carpool lanes were eliminated on the SM Freeway in the 70’s and this is why there are no alternatives and everyone just sits in the same gridlock. This is a litmus test for public transit in LA. We can’t keep doing the same thing. Please contact your elected officials in support of the project.

  • There is a real danger the Wilshire bus-only lanes will only be east of LaCienega.

    Brentwood successfully lobbied to have the original bus-only lanes repealed. I suspect they may be successful again.

  • I’m looking forward to the joke issue: “Bus Rider Doesn’t Want Mixed-Flow Lanes in His Neighborhood”

  • Chris L

    I’m glad I chose the Eastside when I moved here.

  • LAofAnaheim

    I hope the people who live in the westside that keep blaming Metro for the lack of public transit begin to learn that it’s their own neighbors preventing efficient mass transit from entering their neighborhood.

  • Angeleno

    Please qualify “Westsiders” and “residents” with “some.” For the past 27 years I have lived immediately adjacent to–and have commuted daily through–Condo Canyon. Yesterday I sent Metro an email stating my unqualified support for continuous BRT lanes along the entire length of Wilshire. Previously I affirmed my enthusiastic support for the Westside Subway–including the proposed alternaive route which would tunnel under my house. I strenuously object to being lumped in with some of my neighbors when your broad brush paints us all as reactionary NIMBYs who are too short-sighted to support the transit infrastructure we all so desperately need.

  • LAofAnaheim

    @Angeleno..I’m not brushing you with your westside NIMBY’s..nor did I even say that word “NIMBYs”. I’m upset that whenever Metro proposes a good project, the westside seems to be the one most up in arms for something even though they always seem to be upset at Metro for “ignoring their mass transit needs”. And the blame usually ends up on Metro’s shoulders and not the westside. So, why do westsiders (the reasonable westsiders) blame Metro for their lack of mass transit? I’m saying the westsiders (reasonable westsiders) need to look at their neighbors in the westside and talk sense to them about how mass transit is more efficient than single passenger automobile focus. Angeleno..I know you’re one of the good ones. Some discussions need to be held at your neighborhood councils about why mass transit is good and not bad. Solve the problem at the root…not at Metro, which is trying it’s best to bring mass transit to the westside.

  • Another battle royale with NIMBYs. Bring it on!

    And keep sending those emails…

  • Angeleno

    @LAofAnaheim I was not responding to your previous post; if you check the posting times, I was busy typing (or, given my typo, mistyping) my post when you posted yours. Rather, I was responding to the lead story, which thankfully notes “But not all Brentwood residents” oppose BRT lanes through their neighborhood, but irritatingly also says, “So much for Westsiders wanting better transit options” and “the exclusion pushed for by the Condo Canyon residents.” My point was that Mr. Epstein is not a lone exception which proves the woefully prevalent view that all Westsiders speak with a monolithic voice, agreeing “more people should ride buses, but believe the cost of bus-only lanes would be too high for residents who want to quickly drive places.” As for your post, I can assure you I have spoken privately with my neighbors and publicly at neighborhood meetings in support of viable transit for the Westside.

  • xmatt

    I take the Metro Rapid 720/920 to UCLA whenever I don’t feel like biking there. Travel times between Wilshire/Santa Monica and UCLA are fine — there is never much congestion on Wilshire in this segment even during rush hour. Travel times between Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/Santa Monica are terrible because there’s a ton of congestion through Beverly Hills.

    So, if the City of Beverly Hills isn’t even considering joining in the bus-only lane project, the Wilshire bus lines will not improve much, at least for people traveling between the UCLA area and Central or Downtown LA.

    Not that that means it’s fine for the Brentwood NC to oppose the bus lines. It’s not, and frankly I don’t understand what part of the Talmud Rabbi Feinstein was reading when he decided it would be useful to publicly decry a bus-only lane through his neighborhood.

  • LAofAnaheim

    I think the problem is that we are seeing these letters addressed from the neighborhood, which I believe carry more weight than letters sent by individuals of the westside. Somehow the people on these neighborhood councils are the most conservative and don’t adhere well to change and write these letters that can truly influence a board members vote. We need the westsiders to start telling Metro what they really feel about the project. Also, we need some of these neighborhood council presidents VOTED OUT.

  • Carlton Glüb

    When the bus lanes are put in, I image there will be signs hanging over the street saying something like “Transit and Emergency Vehicles Only 7-9am and 4-7pm.”

    To that they should ad an electronic display that reads something like “Bus Lane Currently Moving 1,500 people. 500 more than each car lane.”

  • Scott Mercer

    Bus lanes on every major arterial street!

    Get out the paintbrush!

    No more carpool only lanes…I want carpool only FREEWAYS.

    Yes, all freeways in Los Angeles County are usable only by carpools, commercial vehicles, buses and taxis from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. That would not require anything except putting up a bunch of signs, and printing up beau coup amounts of blank ticket books to start ticketing solo drivers.

    And before anyone says anything, I mean TRUE commercial vehicles, not solo drivers driving pick-up trucks to use a loophole and get around the restriction.

  • Matt

    Actually Scott, this does exist in Virginia on the freeway (I-66) coming into DC in the morning and going out in the evening. No one can enter the freeway in these times without at least 2 people. Hard to believe we’ll ever see that in SoCal, but it does exist in the US.

  • happy

    I was one of the drivers driving wilshire4 bl during test. I must say the only reason why there was a problem is because the residents in those areas would not abide by the rules. They constantly cut us off, they would pull in front of us and stop and go into the cleaners. I have never seen such inconsiderate and rude people. They call in complaints because we can not get them there fast enough and than when they develop a way they feel inconvienced.I feel sad that they maake are jobs so difficult when we travel with their loved ones (mom, daughter, son, fathers, elderly). They felt because they had money they did not have to abide by the rules. If they want faster service they need to be more open minded and Metro needs to stop diciplining their drivers for all their false spoiled complaints when we work so hard with the acception of a few.

  • Brentwood Bob

    You tricked us with Prop R (Subway “to the Sea”)
    Now you’ve taken the subway build-out and stopped it at the VA.
    You pulled some clever tricks with Expo.

    We saw what your bus lane does to our streets before, and we put an end to it.

    We voted for your subway. Go back to your drawing board, sharpen your pencils, and figure out how to complete it all the way to Santa Monica. Then get back to us about your bus lane.

    If the transit fans want to keep the support of the voting and taxpaying majority, you need to listen and converse, not dictate.

  • Bus Lane is Part of Measure R

    Brentwood Bob,

    The Wilshire Bus Lane is part of the Measure R for which *YOU* voted!

    Subway to Westwood is too, but Westwood to Santa Monica isn’t.

    You’re the one who needs to sharpen his pencil.

  • Lawrence

    Dear Brentwood Bob,

    It usually helps to actually read and research the Measures you’re voting for, before marking your vote. A simple Google search for “Measure R” would have told you which projects are and are not covered.

    If you want to donate a few billion dollars to finishing the subway all the way to Santa Monica, be our guest. In the meantime, stop standing in the way of an alternative that could at least help. You and others who think like you are the reason why mass transit is not viable in this city.

  • LAofAnaheim

    Dear all – instead of fighting Brentwood Bob, I would encourage y’all to e-mail the Metro team to continue supporting the Wilshire BRT project or else we all lose – wilshirebrt@metro.net (except you Bob, you don’t e-mail the Metro team)

  • we need like buttons on these comments – Juan – yours (among others) was awesome

  • Rich Alossi

    This makes me glad to live in Downtown. I’m going to have to start refusing to work on the Westside. The bus lanes will be great for me when I take jobs in the Miracle Mile. Unfortunately, the traffic problems don’t begin in the mornings heading west until about Crenshaw. The lack of Beverly Hills in the plan is outrageous (as is Westwood and now Brentwood), and shows the disdain planners and city councils have for the riding public.

  • Darrell

    It is important to note in the email from the Brentwood Community Council that they falsely stated that it “Will Remove 1/3 of the Roadway for Cars” without noting that the project will ADD a new eastbound bus lane from Federal to Sepulveda, resulting in MORE capacity for cars in that section with buses moved out of the regular lanes.

  • @LAofAnaheim: You said, “I think the problem is that we are seeing these letters addressed from the neighborhood, which I believe carry more weight than letters sent by individuals of the westside.”

    This might be true – folks who oppose the project have definitely cloaked themselves in the titles of legitimate organizations, like Homeowner’s Associations and Neighborhood Councils. At the local level, progressive pro-transit Westsiders might have to work harder to get heard on these bodies, and make sure these bodies represent them. It’s a great insight.

    Another issue, though, is that someone in Condo Canyon clearly has a LOT of influence over Zev Yaroslavsky. An undue amount of influence. I have never seen a “community concern” like Condo Canyon’s move up the government food chain this quickly – it only took a couple weeks for the Condo Canyoners’ private traffic study to go from cockamamie NIMBYism to a nod from the FTA.

    To Westsiders, I’d recommend a few political steps:
    (1) Let Zev know you are watching him and that you’re an involved voter
    (2) Lobby both Zev AND your other rep on the Metro Board, Mayor V
    (3) Get more involved with the NCs and Homeowners’ Associations so they don’t take these anti-transit stances again.

    For folks who don’t live on the Westside, we really need to go hard after our reps on the Metro Board – Mayor V, the other County Supervisors, and folks from other cities if we don’t live in LA. So far none of the other Metro Board members has taken a stand on this issue. We make it easy for them to defer to Zev if we don’t let them know we’re watching. So let’s keep flooding them with letters and phone calls! Don’t forget to CC WilshireBRT@gmail.com so we can contact everybody who wrote in after the vote and let them know how their supervisor or representative voted. If they can’t protect our interests as constituents, maybe we should find new representatives.

    Here are some letter templates:

    http://meekadjustments.blogspot.com/2010/12/write-mayor-v-and-your-county.html

    http://www.lasubwayblog.com/2010/12/email-metro-board-of-directors-to.html

  • I am a big fan of Joel Epstein and stood by him in favor of the Constellation location for the subway which I enthusiastically support. But when it comes to the Bus Rapid Transit, there’s a reason the segment from Comstock to Selby was eliminated by Metro in 2001. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the way buses move through this segment. Removing lanes of traffic during rush hour truly messes with what is. This stretch is mostly residential with 57 drives going to apartments, condos, nursery schools, senior residence, synagogues and churches. Creating a new congestion defies logic. Having cars stalled in traffic causes pollution.
    It’s a reason to remove this segment. There is nothing to gain and millions can be saved.

  • Having too many Single Occupant Vehicles on the road is what causes traffic.

    Not buses.

  • Can anyone clarify whether the “Brentwood Community Council” is a real Neighborhood Council?

  • Carlton Glüb

    @Herbie,

    I doesn’t look like the Brentwood Community Council has anything to do with the Neighborhood Councils. Looking at its web page, it seems to be an independent neighborhood group.

    http://www.brentwoodcommunitycouncil.org/about/about-the-bcc-2

  • Carlton Glüb

    It’s also interesting to note the “Policies of the Brentwood Community Council”:

    Policies

    The policies of the BCC are:

    1. To inform all Members, who shall communicate with their Stakeholders, about issues and news relating to matters before the BCC,

    2. To endeavor to conduct all business in a professional and ethical manner and give respect to the views of all Stakeholders,

    3. Not to interfere with the internal affairs of any individual, group, or organization,

    4. Not to restrict any individual or group or organization from speaking out on any side of any issue on which the individual or group or organization wants to be heard, provided the Chair may reasonably restrict the time and number of speakers on any side of an issue,

    5. Not to represent any political parties nor endorse any candidate for political office, and

    6. Not to discriminate in any of its policies, recommendations or actions against any individual or group on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, income or political affiliation.

    Their position on the bus lanes is a pretty unequivocal violation of Policy #6, given the socio-economic and ethnic makeup of transit riders in LA – versus Brentwood generally – and the fact that transit provides critical access for disabled persons.

    You could also read their position as a violation of #3. As LA County residents, they are of course entitled to take a position individually, but their group charter seems to forbid the group from taking an “official position” on the Wilshire BRT as an incorporated entity.

  • Damien,

    You’re playing into this bull. Brentwood Neighborhood Council is uncertified = they’re not an official NC. So when you say “It’s official. Westside Neighborhood Council leaders really don’t want bus-only lanes.” you’re wrong. You’re making a bigger deal of this than it really is – what official NC has weighed in on the bus-only lane?

  • You can verify that Brentwood CC is not City certified here:

    http://done.lacity.org/ncdatabase/nc_database_public/

    BCC is loaded to the gills with appointees from homeowners associations. The rules for certified NCs don’t allow those kinds of appointments, therefore BCC would have to have restructure to take away these appointments to be certified. Word on the street is they do not want to restructure. Take what you will from that.

  • Erik G.

    “That’s plenty of time for the residents between Veteran and the 405 to organize to try and get their stretch of street excluded as well.”

    Um, Damien…

    Who actually “lives” on Wilshire between I-405 and Veteran??

    http://maps.google.com/maps?client=safari&q=veteran+and+wilshire,+los+angeles,+ca&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Wilshire+Blvd+%26+Veteran+Ave,+Los+Angeles,+California+90024&gl=us&ei=BpP_TJf-JofAsAOupZCwCw&oi=geocode_result&ved=0CBcQ8gEwAA&t=h&z=16

  • @ Alex, thanks for the catch. I admit I fell for it after looking at their website, thought they were a bigger deal than they apparently are.

    @ Erik, that was kind of an inside joke for anyone that knew the area…

  • Let’s start our own “Community Council” and send out official sounding press releases! We’ll call ours Brentwood Residents for Transit or BRT.