Seleta Reynolds started last Monday, August 11, as the General Manager of the city of Los Angeles Transportation Department (LADOT.) Reynolds made her first GM report to the city council’s Transportation Committee yesterday, though she had already appeared before the committee during her confirmation process. Reynolds had championed pedestrian safety as a manager at San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency before accepting Mayor Garcetti’s invitation to lead LADOT.
Transportation Committee Chair Councilmember Mike Bonin has made no secret of his early enthusiasm for Reynolds, including using social media to share Reynolds’ informative recent interview at The Planning Report.
Reynolds’ verbal report to the committee was brief. She has been GM for two and a half days, and stated that she is in the listening and learning mode.
Reynolds greeted the five councilmembers in attendance – Bonin, Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian, Tom LaBonge, and Bernard Parks – stating that she wants to better understand their transportation concerns, and “to tour each of your districts, preferably by foot or by bike.”
Reynolds went on to mention that she was pleased with the recent announcement of recommendations for California’s Active Transportation Program (ATP) funding, which goes to facilities and programs for bicycling and walking. She praised LADOT’s work in securing over $22 million in grants for “improving safety and mobility in the city.”
After finishing her report, Reynolds did not dash off, but stuck around for the entire meeting.
Much of the remainder of the meeting focused on LADOT’s lack of promptness in striping streets after resurfacing. The city’s Bureau of Street Services crews repave streets, after which LADOT crews paint stripes, crosswalks, and other markings. Councilmembers questioned LADOT Assistant General Manager Selwyn Hollins as to why the “street goes black” and, for weeks, “there’s no nothing” in terms of striping.
Hollins cited tight budgets, resulting in unfilled positions and a “workload demand beyond our ability to keep pace,” meaning that DOT has to “burn a lot of overtime” to meet the department’s goal of striping within 10 days. But Hollins also admitted that LADOT still tracks striping work on paper, and is only now implementing an automated work order system.
As budget-hawk Krekorian pressed Hollins to do more with less, Seleta Reynolds stepped up from the audience and sat next to Hollins at the speakers’ table. When asked how San Francisco handles striping work, Reynolds responded that the situation there is fundamentally different, due to factors including bond funding.
Reynolds has inherited a hard-working department that faces multiple challenges, including austere budgets and a changing transportation landscape. While it is encouraging to see Reynolds’ clear enthusiasm for safety and for active transportation, she may need to first devote a lot of energy toward getting LADOT’s house in order.