L.A. Planning Commission Won’t Approve Mobility Plan Before April 2015

Planning Commission
Department of City Planning staffer My La summarizes Mobility Plan 2035 before L.A.’s Planning Commission. The Commission continued the plan until April 2015. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission hosted its initial review of the city’s proposed new transportation plan, called Mobility Plan 2035. The meeting included Department of City Planning (DCP) staff presentations, public testimony, and discussion by planning commissioners. At the end of today’s hearing, the Planning Commission voted to direct planning staff to:

  • incorporate planning commissioner comments into a revised version of the plan
  • create a separate document specifying priorities and implementation strategy
  • return to the Planning Commission in April 2015, when the plan’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is expected to be complete

DCP has made 34 pages of revisions to the draft plan released two weeks ago. Planning staff stated that they expect to post the revisions document later today at the LA2B website.

It is encouraging that among its revisions the plan will use the broadly accepted meaning of Vision Zero, not the partial version proposed in the previous draft. The plan, as currently proposed, includes this goal:

Vision Zero: Decrease transportation-related fatality rate to zero by 2035.

Public testimony included representatives from various business groups, L.A. Chamber of Commerce, Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA), the L.A. County Business Federation, and others speaking in support of keeping the plan’s proposed Vehicle Enhanced Network (VEN – profiled here.)

The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.) supported the Bicycle Enhanced Network, and the plan’s overall “aspirations.” Los Angeles Walks founder (and Streetsblog L.A. board member) Deborah Murphy suggested that the plan needs to “go further,” including by outlining a clear “strict process” for making streets more livable.

Also testifying were South Los Angeles groups, including TRUST South L.A. and Community Health Councils, which supported the plan’s focus on safer streets. 

Commissioners’ remarks were varied, though they generally sounded supportive of the plan. A few made statements along the lines of Commissioner John W. Mack’s, who said he was “all for bicyclists and pedestrians” but wanted a “realistic balance” because L.A. is “hooked on automobiles.” Multiple commissioners requested additional details regarding timelines and implementation. Commissioner Renee Dake Wilson pressed for a list of changes, including greater attention to trees, rainwater, first/last mile transit connections, car share, safety, sidewalks, and crosswalks.

The issue of street widening, the subject of yesterday’s SBLA editorial, was touched on quite a bit. In her initial presentation, planner My La stated that the plan minimizes widening by designating streets in ways that better reflect existing street widths. In her explanatory slide show, she cited the example of Alvarado Street between 7th Street and 8th Street, stating that the existing right-of-way is 82.5 feet wide. According to La, under the current road widening standards, this block is designated for a 104-foot roadway width, but under the new plan, it would only be widened to 86 feet. The plan would reduce this block’s designated widening from 21.5 feet to just 3.5 feet.

After public comment (including Deborah Murphy’s and this writer’s personal testimony against the plan’s designated road widening), DCP’s Claire Bowen stated that the intention of the plan was in general to not widen roads, but that in places where the city has already partially widened them, DCP favored widening some remaining narrow stretches to meet “prevailing dimensions.”

Streetsblog will continue to follow this story as revisions are made to the plan and when it returns to the Commission in April 2015.

  • ubrayj02

    I don’t give a damn about the Mobility Plan, I want to know which of the two main candidates for Bernard Parks district (CD 8) are in favor of livable streets policies. I want to know who is in support of Nury Martinez.

    I want to know what LAUSD and various other HUGE public agencies with eleted leaders are doing or not doing to make this region slow down our long slide into collapse.

    It is 2014 and we can’t find the gumption to lay down our FIRST protected cycle track without wasting millions on bureaucracy, “outreach”, and politicking. It’s a waste of time playing this game. We need to kick some of these should-be-termed-out and retired old farts out of office. We need to storm the gates with our kids and our neighbors, to hassle them at every public meeting. It is not acceptable for Los Angeles to be a dangerous and disgusting place to live if you’re not able to afford a mansion and staff. My neighbors are being turned out onto the streets and into RV’s. Where is that in the “mobility plan”?

    With no political sledgehammer to drop all this stupid paper shuffling gets us is older and more jaded. In fact, it already feels like we’ve lost – we’ve lost momentum, we have no backers, anyone with skills is over biking and walking (they’ve become cliches and tropes and are already being mocked by younger kids) and those with skills and experience want to get paid – but there is no paycheck for working on these issues and nobody has the time to donate anymore as more and more of us slide into penury and debt.

    Whatever is brewing needs to grab hold of an anti-bureaucratic mindset and hammer these guys at the ballot boxes. The boomers are twisting the knife into the four generations after them. They have to be stopped. There’s your freaking headline: burn the mobility plan.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    This mobility plan does not change the situation for putting in bicycle lanes. There is no requirement that any of the bicycle enhanced network has to be installed. Its still up to each council member whether this will occur and since car drivers dominate its unlikely that most of the enhanced bicycle network will appear in real life. It only takes a small percentage of drivers objecting to block the installation of bike lanes. You can draw lines all over a map for bicycle lanes and call it what you want, but without any requirements for this to be done it doesn’t change the situation.

    Do you think the vehicle enhanced network will happen? You betcha. This is already the case throughout the city. That situation is unlikely to change anytime soon with car drivers dominating the transportation in this city.

    If drivers were allowed to voice an opinion on whether arterial street right-of-ways should have sidewalks, then sidewalks would likely look like disconnected dots and dashes on a map of arterial streets just like bike lanes do now. There needs to be a requirement that the enhanced bicycle network has to be installed just like sidewalks to have any real meaning in a mobility plan.

    Bicycling needs to be an integral part of transportation like it is in the Netherlands and not a add on or an option. It will never achieve much as a means of transportation it continues to be viewed as something that can only be installed if the majority wants it. Just how are people that don’t have drivers licenses or a car expected to travel around this city?

    There are people that may not have two nickels to rub together and yet if a distance that they need to travel is to far for them to hoof it there, then they are required to have a car or enough money to pay the transit or cab fare. Most transit lines do not run 24 hours a day. What are people expected to do when they need to travel more than a few blocks and they don’t have a car when transit isn’t running near them? A bicycle could give them that mobility, but most people are not willing to bicycle if they have to ride in mixed traffic on a busy street.

    As it is now blocks of several arterial streets in the San Fernando Valley do not have sidewalks and many residential streets do not have street light fixtures. This is in what would be considered the better neighborhoods. Much has recently been written about the deplorable state of sidewalks in this city, but what about the sections of street where you are expected to walk in the mud or in the street with the motor vehicles?

    On the west side of Lankershim Blvd where it meets Vineland Ave there is no crosswalk to cross Vineland Ave, Lankershim Blvd or to even continue heading north on Lankershim Blvd. You literally have to turn around and go back to find a place to cross the street or continue north.

    Most council members are unwilling to put up with many complaints about a simple striping of the roadway for bike lanes. To make the complaints go away they drop the bike lanes.

    As for throwing out a sitting council member through the election process, there has been only one council member who has lost a reelection in the last twenty years. You have to wait for a council member who is mostly unwilling to put in bike lanes to be turned out of office and then hope that their replacement will have more determination to put in bike lanes.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    What highlights the difficulty in getting bicycle lanes installed is looking at the streets that have been turned down for bike lanes where there is a transit rail line either under the street or running parallel nearby.

    Lankershim Blvd from Chandler Blvd to Ventura Blvd was turned down for bike lanes by two council members and yet there is a subway that runs directly underneath it and a freeway that is nearby that runs parallel to it. The section of Lankershim Blvd where it meets north Cahuenga Blvd is eight thru lanes wide and yet it was turned down for bike lanes by council member Tom LaBonge. How many more motor vehicle lanes does it take before bike lanes can be installed there?

    There is always excuses why bike lanes cannot be installed. For this section of Lankershim Blvd there is worry from some people that a Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios would bring more traffic congestion. People who would go to this are unlikely to be traveling to and from there at peak commute hours. Or that this street needs all of the motor vehicle lanes in case traffic has to use it because the freeway is blocked. The streets are never designed to handle the capacity of the freeway in addition to its regular traffic.

    Vermont Ave has a subway underneath it for several miles. Any bike lanes on that street? Of course not, and its unlikely to have them anytime soon. Tom LaBonge stated at a transportation committee meeting that there are too many buses on that street to put bike lanes in. How about taking out one car lane to put in bike lanes since there is a subway underneath the street and put in bus only lanes.

    North Figueroa St has a light-rail line that closely parallels it and a freeway that also runs parallel nearby. Yet the installation of bike lanes was turned down for this street.

    If there was a subway built underneath Westwood Blvd it would still be highly unlikely that bike lanes would be allowed there because of objections from homeowners in the area.

    There is a newly installed light-rail line along Exposition Blvd and bike lanes were installed on this street. But that is due to Exposition Blvd not being a very heavily traveled street.

  • Curban

    .” The Transportation Deputy for Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz attended today’s hearing, testifying specifically for removing Westwood Blvd from the Bicycle Enhanced Network (BEN) in the plan. ”

    Whatever happened to the Councilman Koretz, who once was for livable streets?
    It seems he now is the pocket of wealthy NIMBYs.