(Updated: Item Moved to Next Wed. 2/2) This Week’s Big Transit Meeting: City Council Debates Wilshire BOL on Friday

Now with less Westside!

Will the Westside portion of the Bus Only Lanes survive?

(Update 4:04 P.M.: I just got the following message from Council Man Rosendahl’s Office.  We’re cheered to know he’s doing well, and wish him a speedy return.

FYI Bill is doing fine but still recovering from surgery.  He will not be in for the remainder of the week so we have continued the Wilshire BRT meeting to next Wednesday, February 2nd.)

This Friday, the Los Angeles City Council will debate whether or not to push Metro to remove the entire Westside from the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes Proposal, not just the Condo Canyon area the Metro Board has already removed.  The full agenda for the meeting can be found here.  The Bus Only debate is item #23.

Because this motion was moved to the Full Council without a vote at Committee, the Council will take public comment on the measure and the Green L.A. Transportation Working Group and Bus Riders Union will rally the troops to try to convince the City Counil not to listen to their own Transportation Committee Chair.

Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl is backing a plea from his constituents in Brentwood to remove the section of the Bus Only project running through “their” community.  After the jump are some facts about the project, and the debate about the project, to keep in mind as the debate moves forward.

1. When the Condo Canyon NIMBY’s got “their” part of Wilshire removed from the Bus Only project at last month’s Metro Board Meeting, they had at least had the courtesy to have a professional traffic study arguing that removing that small slice of Wilshire wouldn’t have a large impact on the over all project.  Both Metro and LADOT transportation engineers disagreed with that assesment, but at least Zev Yaroslavsky and the largely disinterested Metro Board had some basis for throwing their staff under the bus.  There is no traffic study to counter the studies done by LADOT and Metro showing that the Bus Only project would work in Brentwood.

2. The Brentwood Community Council and Westside Neighborhood Council are pretty confident about the outcome of the vote.  So confident that they had the guts to badly mis-state the position of the LADOT’s Senior Traffic Enginner on the 1.8 miles of Bus Only Lane scheduled for Brentwood while sitting next to him.  Kang Hu set the record straight, even if his “clarification” was summarily ignored.

3. The Federal Transit Administration agreed to fund 8.7 miles of Bus Only Lanes.  They then agreed to fund the project with the Condo Canyon area removed.  They have not agreed to fund the project with Brentwood removed as well.  When the Bus Riders Union says that, “Westside can’t compromise the project for the entire city because of their narrow self interest to priviledge their tailpipes over our lungs,” it’s because there is no certainty that the 5.7 miles of Bus Only Lane that would remain if Roendahl succeeds in getting a complete exemption for the Westside would be funded.

4. Rosendahl has spent the last six years backing the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes project and has switched positions after Yaroslavsky got the Metro Board to remove the Condo Canyon area.  Whether it’s because the Yaroslavsky Exemption put Rosendahl in a bad position politically or because he really believes that a 1.8 mile Bus Only Lane in Brentwood that’s not connected to other parts of the Westside; there is one thing that’s for certain.

When Yaroslavsky was pushing for the exemption, he hilariously played the role of martyr.  He claimed to be taking an unpopular stand for the greater good because if the Bus Only Lane didn’t live up to potential in Condo Canyon and the community remained opposed, then it would be easier for NIMBY’s to scuttle other Bus Only projects.  That argument took just over a month to completely unravel.

We’ll cover the meeting live on twitter.  The meeting starts at 10:00 A.M., but it could be hours before the debate on the Bus Only Lanes begins.