Rosendahl Continues Process of Removing Westside from Wilshire Bus-Only Project

Now with less Westside!
Now with less Westside!

In an odd quirk of L.A. City Council rules, a Committee can “meet” with just the chair present and move legislation along to the full Council for a vote.  Thus, with the majority of the City Council downstairs debating how to frame the outsourcing of political will to raise parking rates in a way that didn’t make them look like a rubber stamp, Transportation Committee Chair Rosendahl served as a one man committee.  Rosendahl’s office explained to me that if the Full Council Meeting was still happening, that the Chairman would not ask all the witnesses who trekked Downtown to come back later and would hold the hearing himself.

Thus, Bill Rosendahl was able to move legislation that was written by Bill Rosendahl without other Council Members weighing in.  However, when a Chair moves legislation without a vote, it doesn’t meet the hearing requirement, so advocates will have another chance to testify win the hearts and minds of the Council.  Assuming the Council recommends removing the Westside from the BRT plan,  the Metro Board would still need to approve their staff exploring the option in environmental studies before it could go anywhere.  Metro staff assured the room that they would bring the city’s official position to the attention of the Metro Board.

Rosendahl spent most of the Bus Only debate arguing that because of the Yaroslavsky Exemption removing the Condo Canyon area from the project, it no longer made sense to have the Bus Only lanes in Brentwood.  While it’s true that it might look odd on a map to see Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and now Westwood exempted with Brentwood still getting bus only lanes, its also true that the 1.8 miles of Bus Only lanes that remain in the plans for the Westside do have value.

Taking center stage in yesterday’s hearing were Jay Handal of the Westside Neighborhood Council and Ray Klein of the Brentwood Community Council.

Klein stated not once, but several times, that LADOT Senior Traffic Engineer Kang Hu told the Metro Board that a segmented Bus Only Lane project would not work.  That argument was so persuasive that Rosendahl himself repeated it in his own statements on why a Bus Only exemption for Brentwood was necessary.

There’s only one problem.  Klein is either incapable of understanding plain English or was just lying about what he heard.  And since Hu was sitting a couple of feet away from him, he set the record straight when asked to respond to testimony towards the end of the meeting.

That’s not what I said.  If the one mile exemption is a reality, we want as much bus lane as possible.  One mile exemption creates an undesirable condition,  that’s why we were opposed (to the Yaroslavsky Exemption at the Metro Board.)

It will work…The bus benefit will still be there.

Let’s be clear what that means, Rosendahl is substituting the judgment of Klein, who has no background in transportation planning and has repeatedly mis-stated facts about the project, over the Metro and LADOT studies and testimony.  At least the Condo Canyon NIMBY’s had the decency to hire a transportation planner to tell them what they want to hear.  Klein is just making things up.

It’s important to understand because despite all the complaining about Santa Monica and Beverly Hills; the fact remains that the traffic studies show that 1.8 miles of bus only lanes in Brentwood will move more people quickly through the area than the current rush hour car lane.  In other words, the decisions of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills not to participate in the program has no bearing on whether or not this project works in Brentwood and whether it benefits the City of Los Angeles and its residents.

Meanwhile Jay Handal, representing a Neighborhood Council that is apparently fine with the gridlocked state of the roads, says that his NC would be happy to embrace a bus only project as long as Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and the rest of the Westside did too.  In other words, the Westside Neighborhood Council members are reactionary followers, not leaders.

That’s all fine and good, but when examining whether or not to believe Handal’s claim that he would embrace a perfect project and nothing else, we should note that the Westside Neighborhood Council has also opposed Phase II of the Expo Line and the Pico-Olympic plan to speed up traffic.  In other words, the Westside Neighborhood Council isn’t willing to try anything new, regardless of whether it’s a car or transit project.

The testimony of those two leaders was more than enough to win the day, despite the coalition of bus riders, cyclists, environmentalists, and residents who spoke in favor of keeping the Bus Only Lanes project in Brentwood.  The Bus Riders Union, National Resources Defense Council, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and UCLA Bicycle Coalition were all represented by members and staff who testified to the benefits that bus only lanes bring to the entire city: cleaner air, reduced asthma and increased mobility and transportation options.

As soon as the Full Council schedules a hearing on the proposal, Streetsblog will let you know.

  • On behalf of Streetsblog, I move to disagree with Council member Rosendahl. Seeing how there are no other commenters here, the motion carries.

  • Do we all get to play a T-Comm member? Spokker can be Alarcon, because he doesn’t live in the city and I’ll get to play Koretz because I used to bike in West Hollywood a lot. We need someone to play Parks, because I’m guessing SoapBox wants to play LaBonge…

  • I wish that Measure R has specified “West L.A.” instead of “Westwood” as the western terminus for funding. Then we could have had a western teriminus at Bundy/Wilshire.

    If these bus-only lanes on Wilshire through Brentwood/West Los Angeles go, then getting to the subway from points west is going to be a nightmare. The bottleneck at the 405 and the V.A. is going to be horrendous.

  • Matt

    Dan Wentzel, you are exactly right. In fact, it is beyond horrible even today and yes, even with that former bus lane opened to autos.

    If they kill this portion of the busway, then the busway is all but dead. The feds will likely pull funding. Contrary to the Condo Canyon area, this stretch of busway is critical and represents a major time savings for bus travelers. Sometimes it can take as long as 20-25 minutes to go through this clogged stretch. Furthermore, with the subway in the VA, this busway in West LA becomes absolutely critical.

    One benefit from the busway that no one talks about is that emergency vehicles will actually be able to get through the area now. With UCLA Medical Center on the other side, this is huge, especially with the fact that there are no real alternatives to access from this area as the VA blocks all other roads.

  • Along with exclusion from the bus only lanes project, are the street surfaces along Wilshire Blvd west of Beverly Hills going to be neglected or not resurfaced by the city due to no funds for that coming from the Federal government? Are the residents who are objecting to bus only lanes also agreeing to have poorly maintained streets in exchange for exclusion?

    Part of the interest in having bus only lanes was the prospect of having the federal government foot most of the bill for street resurfacing along the Wilshire Blvd corridor. So does that also mean that Wilshire Blvd east of Beverly Hills will have a smooth surface and west of Beverly Hills the street will be in worst shape? Or are the Westside residents going to come back and try to pressure city council to direct sparse city funds towards having their part of Wilshire Blvd resurfaced to match the quality on the eastside?

  • Los Angeles city councilmember Bill Rosendahl stated that he recommends that city council approve the 5.4 miles of peak hour bus only lanes on Wilshire Blvd east of Beverly Hills.

    He also stated that this would not preclude adding east of Beverly Hills later.

    What he failed to mention was that the bus only lane project is a almost wholly funded federal government pilot project. It’s very unlikely that the federal government will want to put this percent of funding into something that is no longer a pilot project.

    That leaves Metro and or the city of Los Angeles to put up most of the funding to extend the bus only lanes west of Beverly Hills. That is extremely unlikely to happen with Metro commited to other projects under measure R and Los Angeles years behind in underfunded street resurfacing.

  • This story really bums me out. What a huge loss to LA and our region’s ability to address mobility needs and attract federal dollars, esp with such limited fiscal resources right now. People in the LA Region are working so hard for an important initiative like 30/10 but we see some leadership being risky and short sighted with the funds we already have? We’re trying to achieve state climate goals – and doing this? How can So Cal attract state and federal funding when our transportation leaders are going in the opposite direction? Nor Cal will continue to have better projects to fund at this rate.

    To me this BRT project is a no brainer, easy to quickly implement, multiple co-benefits and so needed – it’s 2011 and still we see leadership continuing seem to put the single occupancy vehicle before everything and everyone else – and in this instance on of the heaviest traveled corridors in the nation.

  • RayS

    This is ludicrous. Leaving work tonight (around 6:30) I was caught on the wrong side of Barrington and just missed an eastbound 720. I was actually able to pass that bus ON FOOT and made it to the VA stop two minutes before the bus did. In other words, it took the bus nearly ten minutes to travel from Federal to Bonsall (a distance of only 1900 feet).

  • Both Council member Rosendahl and Koritz are against bus only lanes on Wilshire Blvd in their district after hearing organized complaints representing only a few constituents. Even though in all probability most people moving along this corridor will be the ones in the bus only lanes during peak travel hours. Then again most bus riders are unlikely to be voters in those areas as the overwhelmingly preffered mode of travel for residents is a car.

    It doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate from this that both Koritz and Rosendahl will turn quickly against having bike lanes in their district that would take away a motorized travel lane. That is after they hear complaints from their constituents who drive cars down those streets.

    I believe this even though Koritz spoke out strongly in council chambers for a 10% set aside for peds/bicycles of the local 15% share of Proposition R funds. He even got a council vote on his motion to get the 10% set aside as the minimum for peds/bicycles.

    Rosendahl also has been a loud champion for bicyclists both as the head of the Transportation Committee and on the floor of the city council chamber.

    Yet, bicycling is a small niche of overall travel mode in their districts on the west side and I can see both quickly capitulating in the face of complaints from any organized opposition to a bike lane that would involve giving up a motorized lane on a heavily traveled street.

    If you cannot expand the number of lanes to accomodate more cars, then to move more people in this fixed area you have to get each person traveling in a smaller space than the current cars and a bus or bicycle are two modes of travel that can do that.

    The residents of the Westside who are in favor of keeping the car as the fastest and most convenient mode of travel in their neighborhood are also inadvertently advocating for the congestion to worsen as more people choose using a large single occupancy vehicle as opposed to a bus which would be a slower method of travel.

  • Sunspot

    Action idea: I think a critical mass bike stall-in at 2 miles per hour, in front of the 56 condo canyon driveways that Sandy Brown obsesses about,… would be super fun action–hmmm during rush hour–Brentwood too!

    Maybe in 50 years after the sea rises from global warming, Brentwood and Condo Canyon (although it’s on a hill)will go underwater, along with the crisis of leadership in LA. Then we could get our bus lane–hey by that time I’m sure we can create an auto-free corridor on Wilshire.

  • No stall-ins, please

    A stall-in is the most counterproductive idea any dumbass could come up with. It makes the Condo Canyon people look like victims and transit advocates as the aggressors. You would make it look like the Condo Canyon liars’ worst tales were true.

  • LAofAnaheim

    A bike protest at Condo Canyon and Brentwood would be awesome. I’d be down.

  • TransitPlanner

    The Westside is passe. Go East…

  • Spokker

    Bustard posted some video of the problem here: http://www.thebusbench.com/2011/01/waiting-and-watching-on-wilshire-for-a-metro-720.html#comments

    The first video is especially vivid in its depiction of Wilshire congestion, and let me tell you, it’s not being caused by the two buses.

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