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