Showdown Becomes Slowdown: North Figueroa Street Project Drags On

Different options that community members have to chose for Figueroa
Different options that community members have to chose for Figueroa

In the latest installment in the fight for bike lanes on North Figueroa, North East Los Angeles communities found themselves at yet another community meeting organized by Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo at Franklin High School in Highland Park. These community meetings have been literally dragging on and it looks like they will continue to drag on for the foreseeable future until Cedillo finally decides on a course of action.

Yesterdays meeting only seemed to serve one purpose in this on going debate for bike lanes, to piss off everyone.

Trying to avoid a repeat of the shouting matches that took place last meeting in May, no public comment was allowed. Ground rules prohibited clapping (except clapping for Cedillo, his staff, and all the other folks Cedillo acknowledged,) and any kind of noise making from anyone or thing. Cedillo Deputy Sharon Lowe had to break this down for everyone, at length, longwindedly, repetitively, over and over, point by point, patronizingly, both verbatim and with commentary, and stressed the disruptions wouldn’t be tolerated.

#fig4all supporters standing in the back while LAPD office keeps a watchful eye Photo by Erick Huerta
#fig4all supporters standing in the back while LAPD office keeps a watchful eye. Photo by Erick Huerta

If anyone got outta hand, they would be asked to leave after receiving a single warning. The increased presence of the Los Angeles Police Department, which at one point during the meeting had to take the mic to remind everyone to simmer down, only added to tensions. Perhaps the councilman felt he needed the added LAPD presence because he was expecting everyone to get mad from his filibustering-style speech?

Rather than skipping the pleasantries, Cedillo spent the better part of an hour thanking and introducing his entire staff, random people in the audience who are his friends, and many more people and organizations not present. It was worse than a rapper-giving shout outs to all the homies after winning an award.

The majority of folks in attendance were reppin’ their colors, green for support of lanes and red/pink for anti-bike lanes. Streetsblog counted roughly 180 people in attendance: roughly 70 wearing prominent green, roughly 30 wearing prominent red/pink, and roughly 30 city staff.

With no meaningful information being presented or exchanged more than 70 minutes into the meeting, attendees (from both sides of the debate) were losing interest and began trickling out. They missed out on later stalling. 

Additionally, the meeting also featured a brief presentation from Mayor Garcetti’s transportation staffer Nat Gale. Gale announced that Garcetti’s Great Streets initiative includes North Figueroa Street between Avenues 50 and 60, where the proposed bike lanes were to be installed. 

In addition to Cedillo’s and Lowe’s delays, the meeting suffered from audiovisual technical delays. When Department of Transportation (LADOT) staff took the stage and actually presented content, it consisted primarily of reviewing the same information presented in the last meeting, the 2010 Bicycle Master Plan, different definitions of bikes lanes, and statistics on North Figueroa.

It took 90 minutes, of the two hour meeting, for LADOT to finally present the three new possible configurations that community members would be voting on. Of the options given and explained, community members were given choices:

  1. Keep the street as is with no changes
  2. Install buffered bike lanes as originally approved/designed, removing one southbound travel lane
  3. Install only bike sharrows
  4. Install a one-way uphill bike lane, only sharrows downhill, and no travel lane removal

After the different options were presented and reviewed by LADOT Active Transportation Division representative Tim Fremaux. He and LADOT’s Michelle Mowery started answering questions from forms given out to attendees to fill out for the question and answer session of the meeting. Clearly struggling to differentiate between questions and comments pertinent to the meeting, nothing constructive was gained from this process. If the question didn’t pertain to the North Figueroa presentation, it was ignored while other questions were just being reiterated from what was already presented earlier in the power point. The full LADOT presentation can be found here.

The final point in the agenda was for those in attendance to fill out the preferred option survey form and to submit it before leaving the meeting. The form asked to check a box from the options that were presented and gave space for additional comments that will be summarized and shared through the councilman’s newsletter. Next steps will be announced, which will include a final decision on the project and implementation, which could start as early as next July.

Councilmember Cedillo ended the “conversation” by urging everyone to “drive home safely.”

#fig4all supporters decked in green to show their support for the bike lanes
#fig4all supporters dressed in green to show their support for making North Figueroa Street safer for everyone. Photo by Erick Huerta
  • ubrayj02

    Thank you for being there Streetsblog LA. People in the Figueroa For All group who contacted Cedillo’s office leading up to this meeting were told that his decision would come after this meeting. Now we’re part of “an open dialogue”.

    How does Cedillo decide what to wear every morning? Is he capable of making a decision? It is an honest question. How bad is traffic on the other streets in the district before and after the bike lanes went in? To listen to idiots like Tom Topping it now takes “an hour” to drive Eagle Rock Boulevard when it only took 2 minutes in the past. To people who are mentally awake, traffic is indistinguishable before and after the lanes went in.

    There can be no “options” on this issue except for a cycle track with some Great Streets money or the project as currently designed. To back down now would be a total failure of political vision. I would rather rhetorically kick Cedillo around for the next three years than have sharrows go down Figueroa and I am sure there are a lot of other people who feel the same way.

    We need to hold a press conference or rally of some sort to get this project going again.

  • Don

    I
    was VERY impressed to be introduced to every. single. one. of. his.
    staff. and. every. single. one. of. his. interns. and. every. single.
    one. of. his. friends. and. every. single. one. of. his………….
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • MaxUtil

    You have to love the big, red fire engine graphic in DOT’s road configuration presentation. Looks like someone wanted to respond to last meeting’s erroneous “response times could be affected” misinformation campaign.

    If I see any good news here, it’s that Cedillo’s office keeps trying to throw up alternatives to placate people. First it was sharrows, now its uphill only bike lane. Perhaps the pressure is getting to him and he is worried about blowback from trying to completely bury the project. Keep the pressure on!

  • Dennis_Hindman

    I like how council member Cedillo seems to assume that everyone in his district is a traffic engineer by giving his constituents a list of the types of bicycle safety treatments that they can choose or the we don’t need a decrease in injuries or fatalities for bicycling, or other road users, so lets do absolutely nothing choice.

    Council member Cedillo, you don’t deserve to get a medal from the Wizard of Oz for courage if you choose to keep North Figueroa St. as is, with no changes to decrease the number of injuries and fatalities to vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists. That’s right, no medal from a fictitious person if you decide to do non-existent safety improvements to North Figueroa St.

    Or maybe he’s trying to illustrate how he did much more than nothing by putting a picture of a bicycle and chevron on the street that tries to persuade people symbolically that they can become a road warrior corporal by riding among the heavy projectile predators.

  • El Sharto

    CEDILLO IS A TURD.

  • On top of all of the infuriating time-wasting, I also found it suspicious that the check box for “no change” was placed so close to the text describing the LADOT buffered bike lane option. My very intelligent friend totally fell for it and marked the wrong box until I showed her the correct box was way at the bottom.

    I’m sure they may claim that it’s just a case of amateur graphic design but at this point, it’s hard to trust Cedillo’s office.

  • James

    There should have been a version of #1 showing what happens when drivers and cyclists pull over for emergency vehicles, producing more than a single lane of travel. Gil Cedillo may not be familiar with this phenomenon.