When Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 2245 into law, a law allowing certain bicycle projects to opt-out of the CEQA process, the news was somewhat buried. On the same day, the Governor vetoed the “Give Me 3” safety legislation that created a legal buffer between cyclists and passing automobiles earning the scorn of cyclists everywhere.
While the veto of Give Me 3 is still a sore subject, cyclists can take solace that the City of Los Angeles is taking advantage of A.B. 2245 to speed up bicycle, and even some pedestrian, projects in Los Angeles.
When the Department of City Planning unveiled the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the next five years of bicycle plan implementation and the My Figueroa! project, one small paragraph in Section II shows how the game has changed.
In September 2012, Governor Brown signed in to law Assembly Bill (AB) 2245, which allows re-striping of urban roadways to proceed under a Statutory Exemption as long as a traffic and safety analysis is prepared and hearings are held in affected areas…The city will not be certifying the EIR or preparing a Final EIR. Rather, Notices of Exemption will be filed pursuant to 1) California Public Resources Code (PRC) Section 21080.20.5 (c)(2) – for the bicycle lanes and 2) CEQA Guidelines, Article 19, Sections 15301, 15304, and 15311 for the streetscape improvements proposed as part of the My Figueroa Project.
In plain English, the city is opting out of the lengthy EIR process for the rest of the certification and using the public outreach, traffic and safety studies to meet the requirements of A.B. 2245. This will save the city money and months of planning and allow many projects to move forward on an accelerated timeline. At this point, neither LADOT or City Planning were able to release a timeline on when each of these projects or the sensational My Figueroa! project will move forward.
The Draft EIR covered 39.5 miles of bicycle lane projects that would require the removal of parking or a mixed use travel lane in areas where the Level of Service was already a C, D or F and the My Figueroa! project which covers 3 miles of Figueroa and some connecting streets in South Los Angeles and promises major streetscape, transit and bicycle access improvements. Just because a projet doesn’t appear on the list below doesn’t mean that it isn’t on the construction list, just that it wasn’t part of this study. Not every bike project needs to be studied under CEQA or A.B. 2245.
Some of the bicycle projects studied in the EIR that are headed towards environmental approval include 5.1 miles of bike lanes on North Figueroa Street between San Fernando Road and 4.5 miles of Venice Boulevard between Figueroa Street and Main Street, and 3.2 miles on Bundy Drive between San Vicente Boulevard and Stanwood Drive. A fuller description of the projects can be found in Chapter 3 of the DEIR.