A Positive End in the Conflict Between Councilman Cedillo and #Fig4All?

The most closely-watched story of 2014 for Livable Streets advocates was the ongoing battle between Councilman Gil Cedillo and the advocates themselves over the future design of North Figueroa Street. However, 2015 is a new year and the hot debate may be cooling off with the groundwork for future collaboration being laid.

Gil Cedillo campaigned in the Flying Pigeon bike shop and used a picture with the owner in his campaign billboards. Now, Josef Bray-Ali is campaigning hard for Cedillo to fulfill a campaign promise to see bike lanes on North Figueroa Boulevard as the city's Bicycle Advisory Committee calls new studies a waste of time and money. Image: Flying Pigeon
During the campaign two years ago, Cedillo (center) campaigned in the Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, owned by Josef Bray-Ali (right). Many bike advocates were disappointed in a decision to delay bicycle lanes on North Figueroa Street. A team of advocates, partially led by Bray-Ali, adopted the banner #Fig4All to rally behind. Recently, Cedillo’s office has reached out to end the bad feelings. Cedillo and the Mayor’s Office are promising progressive transportation planning for North Figueroa.

The first sign came last week.

One day after advocates rallied outside of the Councilman’s apartment building to protest comments delivered at a December City Council Meeting, the Council office met quietly with staff from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. At the meeting, staff presented some draft concepts of road improvements for the five blocks being considered for Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Great Streets” proposal for North Figueroa.

The Mayor’s Office has long-stated that Great Streets improvements will become templates for larger improvements along L.A.’s iconic corridors.

Following the meeting, the LACBC sent a message to its Northeast Los Angeles advocacy arm, “Ride Figueroa,” that stated:

After years of outreach, stakeholder education, meetings, rides and rallies, we are delighted to report that Councilman Gil Cedillo is seriously considering project options that are true to this inclusive vision for North Figueroa. Focusing on the historic core of Highland Park from Avenue 55 to Avenue 60, Cedillo’s staff worked with LADOT to produce a series of options that included essential safety elements, such as a road diet, better sidewalks and crosswalks, transit enhancements, and physically protected or buffered bike lanes.

Later in the week, at a meeting of the Highland Park Neighborhood Council, Cedillo’s staff announced it was working with the city to remove an application for parallel parking the city was including in an application to Metro. The batch of applications had been approved by the City Council in a December meeting, where local advocates and Cedillo sparred during the public comment period. The new application to Metro, now excluding the parking changes along North Figueroa, will be heard by Council soon.

In an email to Streetsblog, Cedillo spokesperson Louis Reyes explains the reasoning behind the change.

“Although our project was ranked number one [and] included multiple components that would increase street safety on Figueroa, we were driven by an application deadline that did not allow us to properly vet the project thoroughly with the community,” Reyes writes.

“Therefore, we are going to conduct additional stakeholder outreach in order [to] achieve consensus on a specific proposal. We encourage bicyclist[s] to participate and educate other community members [on] the merits of bicycle lanes.”

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The Mayor’s Office promises these goals and standards were applied to all potential designs for the Great Street program on North Figueroa.

Just yesterday, the Mayor’s Office itself weighed in with its enthusiasm for the yet-to-be-made-public plans for North Figueroa. In a post on the Great Streets tumblr, the Great Streets team celebrated their collaboration and explained why the progressive transportation plans are being kept under wraps for now.

Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative is excited to be working with Councilmember Gil Cedillo and the staff of Council District 1 on the development of traffic calming options for the North Figueroa corridor. A hearty thanks goes out to the staff at LADOT and L.A. Bureau of Street Services for their tremendous efforts towards making North Figueroa a street where Angelenos of all walks of life can safely walk, sit, and gather. Project refinement is in the works, and once all options have been technically vetted, our offices will return to the community for input.

Is rapprochement for Cedillo and the #Fig4All advocates just around the corner? That likely depends on the proposals put forward for the Great Streets Initiative on North Figueroa and whether or not both sides can put the rhetoric and battle scars from 2014 behind them. But, at least for now, Cedillo’s office has extended the olive branch and his harshest critics are holding their fire, willing to wait and see what happens next.

29 thoughts on A Positive End in the Conflict Between Councilman Cedillo and #Fig4All?

  1. Until paint is on the streets and Cedillo is out of office I am not holding my breath. His entire approach is about him not the community.

  2. “Seriously considering… additional stakeholder outreach…” I will believe it when I see it. Cedillo has lost all credibility and garnered much ill-will.

  3. I suspect we’ll see a proposal for a lot of nice treatments on Fig that will run exactly 5 blocks and then end. Will that be the start of something better and real? Maybe. But get ready for every comment of “I never see anyone riding in those bike lanes” (that run for 5 blocks) and complaints about the minor, but real traffic issues caused by having Fig go from 2 lanes each way down to 1 and then back to 2 in a very short stretch. Watch for a lot of accidents right at the point where people doing 50 hit that lane reduction and rear end people.

  4. On the optimistic side, it sounds to me like Garcetti, DOT, and street services told Cedillo he wasn’t going to get any great streets money just to add a couple parking spaces and that he had to do something real. While I don’t think he’s scared to keep pissing off the all-powerful bike lobby, I’m guessing he was worried about the idea of not being able to take credit for any ‘great streets’ projects when every other council district gets theirs.

    Sounds to me like Garcetti and DOT are now the bullies forcing him to “make the right decision”.

  5. I wonder who may have twisted Cedillo’s arm behind the scene? There’s been a lot of pressure on the mayor’s office to get involved in North Fig, and many calls for Seleta Reynolds to weigh in, as well.

    It’s always possible that Cedillo may want to put the dispute behind him as he looks forward to a re-election bid in two years. But I’d put my money on pressure from on high.

  6. Hah!
    Yeah right. I don’t buy it for a second. He is chopping the project
    from 5.1 miles to 5 blocks! Who in their confused mind thinks this is a
    victory?! From $250,000 to $3,750,000 for LESS? BULLSHIT!

    Just getting to talk with a politician about something that will happen in 2020 does not equal victory. If the deadline for this guy to act on something is now well past his re-election this is what victory looks like:

    A BIKE LANE THE WHOLE LENGTH OF FIGUEROA
    This lane then makes a left turn on Avenue 20;
    A right turn on Pasadena Avene;
    Continues on Broadway through Chinatown to Ord Street.

    That is a victory because that is where we should be in 2020 after 15 years of struggle with city hall for safe streets. That is what $3,750,000 and 15 years should look like. Not 5 blocks.

    This is why so many of us get pissed at our official “advocates”. Milquetoast “talks” don’t save lives.

    I say again “bullshit”! If we don’t have action THIS YEAR and have photo-ops with Gil riding bikes with us THIS YEAR and building up our coalition, holding community improvement efforts THIS YEAR then kick this bum out. Build our forces up for 2017 and find a candidate who can actually go the job of governing the fiefdom of CD1 properly.

  7. Garcetti just committed $10 million for cops to wear cameras. The Great Streets get $500,000. The money ain’t it, the PR is. Garcetti got more votes in CD1 than Gil did in the last election and he wants to get more – but he’s not going to get mine if they can’t give us the whole street length worth of bike lanes AND extend it into downtown. Waiting until 2019 and 2020 for 5 blocks of traffic congestion in Highland Park is not victory for anyone.

  8. He is going to run the clock out on his first term, getting paid to do it, offering us a made-to-fail 5-block clusterfuck of traffic at a $3,750,000 price tag. We are going to look like idiots for thinking he’s offering us anything but a chance to waste our time with him. This isn’t a negotiation, it’s a stick up – and we’re all being robbed. He’s making $160,000 a year while we’re having our lives threatened every day riding the streets. Hell no. 5.1 miles and a few more is what victory looks like.

  9. We’ll
    rename Avenue 55 to 60 “The Gold Plated Gil Cedillo Congestion Zone”
    and the rest of the street will be the Killing Fields because that is
    what this negotiated plan is looking like to this bike commuter.

    How can the so called advocates in this community call this a positive end? This is a PR abdication to one of the slimiest cretins in city hall.

  10. More
    meetings, more money, less safe streets. We keep proving time and time
    again that the community supports a complete safe Figueroa. Our
    community’s history is strong and progressive. We are working families,
    artists, environmentalists and humanitarians. These issues are only
    growing stronger and we need a councilman who is serious and like
    minded.

  11. The reality is that Cedillo wanted to kill bike lanes but had no viable way of doing it until someone on his staff (Sharon Lowe maybe?) recommended angled parking.

    Angled parking would physically block bike lanes from happening and once angled parking goes in, only a serious crash or series of crashes attributed to the angled parking could justify removing it. This is especially true given the congestion angled parking would cause. It is not possible to convert parallel parking to angled parking without removing something. If it were to be converted on both sides of the street, Figueroa would be reduced to a single lane in each direction as Larchmont Blvd is. For someone determined to “save emergency response times” this would not fly. Angled parking on both sides, while nice, would cause too much congestion for Gil. Also, the crash rate would undoubtedly go up from such a sudden and brief stretch of unique configuration before reverting to the same stroad it is on either end.

    Angled parking on one side of the street would still require one lane removal and still cause considerable congestion but it would not ADD any parking, it would simply reconfigure the parking arrangement and quite possible REDUCE the number of curbside parking spaces available. The cross streets, whether angled parking were implemented on one or both sides, would require a wider turn radius and this would remove the amount of park-able space available. Bus stops would require greater clearance (which means more red curb) to allow buses to access the curb.

    Of course, CD1 doesn’t think that far ahead and certainly did not consult with any engineers so they were likely unaware of how flawed their spite plan was (it would cause major congestion, crashes would likely go up, and it would only reconfigure parking- not add any parking).

    Add to all this, it is only a few politically powerful businesses, who are ignorant of the design constraints, asking for angled parking. Even Cedillo’s anti-bike supporters opposed angled parking. Angled parking would gain Cedillo some political perks from the businesses but he would lose many more voters. Also, Figueroa is saturated with parking as it is, there are many public parking lots just steps off of Figueroa.

    Finally, why would Metro have any incentive to fund a project a block away from the Highland Park Gold Line station that would 1) make life more difficult for bus drivers and passengers 2) do nothing to improve bike or pedestrian access to the gold line 3) rearrange the parking without adding parking.

    Cedillo’s gold-plated spite plan gets a big fat FAIL! Thank god Great Streets team was at the last meeting, they saw that nobody was asking for angled parking. The only hope for residents is to have the Great Streets team continue to attend meetings so that Cedillo’s lying deputies can’t claim that nobody wants bike safety improvements.

  12. Forgot to add, you can’t magically go from two lanes to one then back to two. Before entering the angled parking zone a lane would have to terminate in a right-turn only lane (like the new right-turn only lane on York) or be tapered off so effectively the 5 blocks of angled parking would reduce through put for 6 or maybe 7 blocks.

  13. Gil Cedillo is such a huckster. The guy barely won the election, then he renegged on plans that the community worked on for years with Reyes and the LADOT. THEN he robo-calls THOUSANDS of people to participate in his sham community meetings and guess who shows up? A couple of anti bike old coots and hundreds of safe streets advocates. Then he calls everyone bullies. Heh. Wait till election season arrives. WE LIVE HERE. WE’VE BEEN HERE before your sorry ass came to town Cedillo. You’ve lost elections before…. you never know….

  14. Don’t cave in Cedillo. These pseudo hipster morons don’t represent the community. The bike lanes on York maybe get utilized by 3 percent of the community yet the congestion caused by it effects the other 97 percent. And by all means don’t ever pay attention to bray. He just wants more bike lanes so he can sell more bikes even the hipsters that go to his shop and buy them all come from outside CD1. It’s all about the $ for that clown. If he had it his way we’d all be out riding bikes bought from his shop.

  15. So-called NELA voter and I am guessing also a “long time resident” who has been mentally unconscious for decades:

    The bike lanes on York are made up a scraps of roadway left over after a revolt against an LADOT plan to make York two lanes each way and eliminate car parking was fought off in 2005-2006 by Jose Huizar and a large group of small business owners and property owners on York.

    Why do “long term residents” always need a history lesson the streets they are such experts in online and in community meetings? Weren’t you around to see it all go down? Or were you just as checked out then as you are now – only complaining when you feel like you’re going slower. When, in fact, average travel times have not been affected at all or have only been increased by tiny amount (less than a minute of added peak hour delay). Take a watch out and time your drive on York and Google Map the distance then divide the distance by the number of hours it takes and show us your average speeds during rush hour and off peak. If it is above 8 to 13 mph during peak times you’re doing better than most commuters on surface streets in LA. Off peak, you’ll average in the mid-20’s.

    Hate all you want, but your opinion has the inconvenient problem of not aligning with reason.

  16. Welp, there goes the blog post on this topic I was gonna publish! Tinfoil Hat Wearer did you hack mah blog?

    Damn, you hit on everything I was gonna say.

  17. Great to see that your opinion on this is totally objective and not in ANY way personal or clouded by biases. This is really an awesome, well-thought response full of great factual insight. Oh … wait.

  18. Can barely hack lettuce for my salad dinner, must be coincidence. Always enjoy reading your take on things, publish the article please!

  19. Damien has threaded the needle here with characteristic excellence. If only Cedillo had done the same starting in July 2013.

    It may be hard to watch the original proponents already trampling the olive branch, yet how can one suggest they do otherwise given the bizarre and hypocritical “vetting” comment? It seems to confirm what Fig4All has been saying all along, that the “vetting” process of the past year and a half has been a charade and that in reality the office has not done their homework and turned a deaf ear to their own very knowledgeable constituents. Otherwise they would have been ready with a “vetted” proposal.

    Since Cedillo created the forum for skepticism against already established merits of bike lanes, he could now own that a little bit and strive to correct the record himself rather than merely inviting bicyclists to (continue to) do that themselves.

    LACBC and the Mayor’s office deserve kudos for their work to get safety on North Fig back on track. As for Cedillo and the district’s safety advocates, time will tell if they will be able to shake hands and sit down together. If either side holds out for an apology, that could be a very long wait.

  20. I’m probably missing something, but is Fig4All pushing for protected bike lanes? Whenever I hear ‘bike lane’ without the word protected, I’m much less excited.

  21. “highly prone to errors in reading TAP cards” . . . finally occurred to them???? I’ve always suspected that if you appear to be a ‘professional’ they just pretend to read it assuming you tapped/paid, if you are ghetto, you don’t even have a TAP card. Homeless, they don’t bother.

  22. Good post Damien and Sludge. In addition to all the praise offered to LADOT, L.A. Bureau of Street Services, Great Streets and Cedillo’s office, I would like to recognize the personal contributions of local bike advocates and suggest that without their “Je suis Charlie” actions of protest, I do not think this latest break of sunlight would be happening. This was going the wrong direction up until the day of taking the protest to his doorstep, provoked by his own dismissive and derisive rhetoric. Cedillo and his staff are now required to lead their way through this carefully in a rare second chance to get down to the business of creating a safer, connected solution to downtown, Pasadena and the Valley. There is a small window to establish a foothold of trust here — one that is earned and not just expected — and will illustrate how skilled he and his staff are at conducting future outreach efforts with constituents, regardless of the issue.

  23. HIGHLY doubtful Cedillo lives in that apartment building. Someone should follow him around and see.

  24. I’m not from the area or living there, but I always thought Fig was very pedestrian friendly. The pedestrians were there, and they were friendly, too. As for cycling, I thought people used the side streets.

  25. Until Gil Cedillo promises to install continues buffered bike lanes along Figueroa he is just an obstacle to safe streets in CD1. We need the councilman to stop these endless planning meetings trying to discount the experts and stop seeking out a majority to suit his paid agenda. A councilman that sides with the majority and experts that are here and have been here in our all along. We have proved time and time again that the majority in NELA support these lanes and safe streets. Either do your job or move aside so someone who cares can. Fragmented lanes will only cause kaos and more hard feelings in the community. Bring this community together and lead it into the future Mr. Cedillo.

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