Skip to content

Posts from the "City Planning" Category

3 Comments

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.  Read more…

16 Comments

Ten Reasons L.A.’s Mobility Plan Needs to End Road Widening

The Department of City Planning thinks that Beverly Boulevard needs to be 32 feet wider. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Department of City Planning thinks that Beverly Boulevard needs to be 32 feet wider. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The City of Los Angeles is updating its primary transportation plan, something it hasn’t done since 1999. The new Mobility Plan 2035, authored by the City Planning Department (DCP), will be before the city’s Planning Commission tomorrow.

There is some welcome stuff — especially in the vision statements — in the latest draft Mobility Plan. It is better than 1999′s plan. But what gets most stuck in my personal craw is road-widening.

This is 2014. Vehicle miles driven are declining. We’re building five rail lines. We spent a billion dollars widening the 405 Freeway only to experience slower commute times. Greenhouse gas reduction legislation is mandating sustainable communities. And Los Angeles is about to reaffirm its self-destructive policy of continuing to widen the crap out of the majority of our already built-out road network.

Briefly, how street-widening plans work in L.A.: Perhaps 100 years ago, someone (usually the city or developers) built a street. Let’s say said street was and is 50 feet wide. During the post-WWII car-centric planning era, following the latest car-centric traffic engineering standards, DCP decided that the 50-foot wide road should really be 60 feet wide. Someone buys a property on this street with the intention of tearing down the existing building and replacing it with a new one. DCP mandates that when that new building goes up, the developer must pay to widen the street to some or all of that now “missing” 10 feet, typically half of it, sometimes more. So, in this case, the developer loses a 5-foot strip of land which goes toward widening the street. Corner lots, perhaps the most desirable for visibility and foot traffic, often lose two strips of land, one for each street that they front. In theory, all of the properties on the street would be redeveloped and the whole length of the street would be up to the new standard, but that could take hundreds of years.

Civilized nations like Pasadena and even Downtown Los Angeles ended street widening practices a while ago.

Some folks already read this when I opined about it this past May, but one especially heinous example just three blocks from where I live, walk, and bike is Beverly Boulevard. In L.A.’s most population-dense neighborhood, alongside the Metro Red Line subway station, Beverly would be widened from 78 feet to 110 feet. Really. Beverly is just one of many streets that DCP wants to widen.

I urge the Planning Commission to reject the Mobility Plan unless it explicitly ends road widening.

Here are my top ten reasons to end road widening:

1. The City Can’t Afford to Maintain Wider Streets - Wider roads are more expensive for the city to maintain. With gas tax revenues at their lowest inflation-adjusted levels ever, transportation funding is scarce at the federal, state, and local level. The feds resorted to budget gimmicks, including “pension-smoothing,” to make up for huge transportation funding shortfalls. Los Angeles is looking to its own budget gimmicks, including closing parking tax loopholes, to fund street resurfacing, which L.A. already has trouble keeping up with. Though it is apparently on hold, L.A. was also looking to float a $3+ billion road repair bond.

The first thing we should be doing when we find ourselves in a hole like this is to stop digging. Stop the bleeding. Stop the road widening. Though roads seem cheap when the feds or developers pay to build or widen them, excessively unnecessarily wide roads come with excessive maintenance costs. They are ticking fiscal time-bombs for cities. (Thanks to Strong Towns for getting me thinking about this in this way.)

2. Widening Hurts the Local Economy – Street-widening requirements drive up the cost of new development. New housing, retail, etc., is not only required to pay to build a chunk of new street (up to 32 feet wide in the Beverly example above), but that development also loses that strip from what can be developed, meaning a smaller building footprint, so less housing, less retail… not to mention impacts on public projects: less park, less school, less library, less transit station, etc. 

3. Widening Hurts Affordable Housing – A noteworthy subset of item 2 above, shaving that road-widening dedication off of housing parcels drives up the cost of housing. This is especially true in core older neighborhoods where streets are at sane dimensions but not up to the latest car-centric standards. As Mayor Garcetti pushes Metro to step up joint development of affordable housing at transit stations, let’s not dedicate a bunch more of that land to streets when it should go to housing.

Read more…

5 Comments

Lightly Revised L.A. City Mobility Plan At Planning Commission Thursday

Cover of L.A.'s revised Mobility Plan 2035. Apparently lots of empty transit platforms in L.A.'s future. Image via DCP draft [PDF]

Cover of L.A.’s latest draft Mobility Plan 2035. Apparently Los Angeles’ future includes lots of mostly-empty gray transit platforms, with prominent restrictive signage and surveillance cameras. Image via DCP draft [PDF]

The Los Angeles Department of City Planning (DCP) recently released an updated version of its proposed Mobility Plan 2035, the transportation element of the city’s General Plan. The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposed plan at its meeting this Thursday at 8:30 a.m. [agenda PDF - see item 7]. The revised plan documents are available online via the LA/2B project document page; they include a staff report [PDF], the Mobility Plan, Map Atlas, Complete Streets Guidelines, and Environmental Impact Report.

Though the staff report summarizes a number of changes, the revised plan appears to be very similar to the earlier version, analyzed in earlier SBLA articles. See this March article for overall background.

One new inclusion in the plan is Vision Zero. Well, sort of.

Vision Zero, from Sweden to LA’s Department of Transportation (LADOT), has always meant eliminating all traffic fatalities. Zero dead drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or cyclists. DCP’s new draft Mobility Plan (p.38) re-defines the term as:

Vision Zero: Decrease pedestrian and bicycle fatality rate to zero by 2035.

DCP’s version is more like “Vision 108,” well below the current “Vision 219,” based on 2010 traffic fatalities enumerated in DCP’s Health Atlas (219 overall traffic fatalities, including 100 pedestrians and 11 cyclists.)

People who identify as cyclists and pedestrians certainly welcome the end of bicycling and walking fatalities. Keep that in the plan! 108 annual deaths are better than 219. Unfortunately DCP is re-defining an already widely-used term, taking an all-inclusive safety framework and carving it into a benefit for what is currently a minority slice of road users. This could confuse or mislead the public, and might erode public support for the truly universally-beneficial Vision Zero.

As SBLA noted for the earlier version, the revised documents remain full of mealy-mouthed non-committal language when it comes to describing safety and livability advances, for example:

The Plan builds upon the bike plan framework and goes a step further by proposing fully protected bicycle lanes. (Staff Report, p.19, italics added)

L.A.’s past car-centric road-widening, parking, funding plans don’t just “propose” or “consider” car-centric infrastructure, they very clearly plan it, designate it, and then it gets built. Perhaps some wiggle-room is needed in the volatile current period where travel modes are shifting, new technologies are emerging, and car miles traveled are declining. Unfortunately ambiguous non-committal road designations are likely to mean that car-centric streets will remain the city’s default. While road-widening and speed-limit increases continue, livability and safety projects could continue to face long-drawn-out community dialogue processes. Look no further than the city’s “Year Two” bike lane projects: eight months down the road with zero mileage completed or even finalized.

Other earlier critiques remain applicable. Read more…

7 Comments

City Planners Listen to Stakeholders Regarding Potential for Bike Lanes Along Boyle and Soto

Multi-modal Boyle Heights: A family rides bikes, boys skateboard, and car commuters make their way home. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

Multi-modal Boyle Heights: A family rides bikes, boys skateboard, and car commuters make their way home. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog LA

As I pedaled my way up the hill towards Mariachi Plaza, I had to dodge a skateboarder coming straight at me at a rather significant clip.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen a skateboarder in the middle of the road there.

The eastbound stretch of 1st between Boyle Ave. and Pecan St. is quite wide, and the skaters usually turn onto Pecan or hop back onto the sidewalk and out of traffic at the Pecan/1st intersection. The thrill of an unfettered downhill is brief, in other words, but apparently worth the risk of skating against traffic.

That’s who needs special lanes, I thought as I crossed Boyle and picked up the 1st St. bike lane. There are more skaters than bikers, and they need to be able to get around easily, too. 

I was thinking about the possibilities for community-specific road reconfigurations because I was on my way to a roundtable meeting to discuss the possible implementation of bike lanes on Soto St. and Boyle Ave., two of the 19 streets on the 2010 Bike Plan’s Second Year slate of projects. The roundtable, run largely by David Somers of City Planning and LADOT Bikeways Engineer Tim Fremaux, was the city’s first stab at connecting with a few Boyle Heights stakeholders and gathering specific feedback regarding mobility and other issues along those streets.

Screen shot of the 2010 Bike Plan's lanes planned for Soto (from Huntington to 8th) and Boyle (from 5th to 8th).

Screen shot of the 2010 Bike Plan’s lanes planned for Soto (from Huntington to 8th) and Boyle (from 5th to 8th). Click to enlarge.

I was looking forward to hearing other stakeholders’ thoughts on the lanes. Although I didn’t expect any of the participants to offer push-back, I knew they would be aware of the concerns that others in the community might raise when the city looked for support for the project from the wider public.

First among those concerns is the view that bike lanes can act as a gateway drug for gentrification.

When the city comes a-calling in a long-marginalized community and only offers the one thing that is at the bottom of that community’s lengthy list of needs, it’s not unusual for some to be suspicious of the city’s intentions.

The popular “bikes mean business” mantra doesn’t help allay fears, either, as it doesn’t necessarily hold up in lower-income communities. There, bicycles can signify of a lack of resources, and long-standing businesses catering to hyper-local needs are not the ones well-heeled cyclists are likely to favor (see the discussion of the gentri-flyer debacle for more on this).

Another key concern is that Boyle Heights is a largely (bus) transit- and pedestrian-heavy community and that it needs upgrades to its pedestrian and bus infrastructure much more than it needs bike lanes that facilitate connections to rail.

This is not to say there aren’t a lot of cyclists in the area — there are. There is a sizable number of commuters, as well as a growing contingent of youth that regularly ride for both transport and recreation.

But they aren’t as visible a presence as the pedestrians. And it is often economics and community mobility patterns (i.e. moms needing to run errands with a few kids in tow) that keep many reliant on walking, skateboarding, and/or transit, not the lack of bike infrastructure–meaning that the community may be unsure that it would reap any benefits from the presence of the lanes. Read more…

No Comments

SGC Awards Grants to Boost Smarter Urban Planning in CA Cities

California’s Strategic Growth Council recently awarded $40 million for sustainability plan projects like this transit-oriented development above L.A.’s Metro Red Line Wilshire/Vermont Station. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Strategic Growth Council, a state committee made up of representatives from six California agencies, awarded over $40 million in planning grants last week for projects large and small that are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

One of the grants went to the Los Angeles City Planning Department to help quantify the GHG emission reductions brought by infill housing development as a strategy to help meet the state’s climate targets set under A.B. 32. The $491,770 grant will allow planners to develop ways to measure the reductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) from affordable housing and infill development near transit, and to quantify the trip reduction benefits of transportation demand management measures. Ultimately, the goal is to develop a VMT-based metric that can be used to satisfy California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements.

Other grants were awarded to L.A. Metro and the L.A. County Department of Regional Planning, as well as numerous other cities and counties throughout the state.

The grants were divided into two streams: the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentives Program, which awarded $16 million to 33 projects, and the Urban Greening Grant Program, which awarded $24 million to 40 proposals. A list of this year’s planning grants appears after the jump.

The Sustainable Communities Planning Grants fund plans to build infill development and efficient transportation, local climate plans, and zoning plans for transit-oriented development and renewable energy, among others.

The Urban Greening Grant Program awarded funds to shovel-ready projects that create and develop parks and greenways, reduce runoff by creating bioswales and converting pavement to permeable surfaces, restore habitat, plant trees, and similar projects.

Read more…

24 Comments

Empowering Communities to See Streets as Sites of Recreation: What does it Take?

Sin and redemption. Despite it's long-standing status as a stroll, Western Ave. has at least two churches on almost every block. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Sin and redemption. Despite it’s long-standing status as a stroll, Western Ave. has at least two churches on almost every block. A passerby teased the elderly gentleman at the corner who had just left the church by suggesting he was hanging out along Western for other-than-godly reasons. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

“We need to empower people to see their streets as sites of recreation.”

It’s somewhat of a city planner mantra.

And, it tends to drive me crazy.

Part of it has to do with my having been an academic in my previous life, where I spent years observing efforts to “empower” refugees, displaced persons, sex trafficking victims, genocide survivors, and the desperately poor to take charge of their circumstances. The focus on modifying individual behaviors precluded dialogue on the mix of structural and individual interventions that might have yielded more comprehensive solutions to what were, essentially, deeply-rooted structural problems. As a result, outcomes were often superficial and/or unsustainable at best and irreparably damaging to people’s livelihoods at worst.*

Yet “empower” soldiers on, both abroad and right here at home.

I hear it all the time.

I heard it most recently at the well-attended Community Planning Forum held at Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Center on Western Ave. in South L.A. at the end of March.

It was all I could do to keep myself from dragging the poor person outside to show them the street was already very heavily used for recreation. Just the wrong kind.

There are a few sections of Western — including areas in close proximity to the park — known as “strolls.”

Day or night, rain or shine, you can find a girl on the street that can help meet your “needs” for a few dollars.

They sit at bus stops, stand on corners, walk up and down the block, dance by themselves on quiet side streets just out of the glare of the main drag, brazenly post up like sentries at the driveway entrance of the Mustang Motel — they are ubiquitous.

While a number of them are older and may be working independently and/or feeding drug habits (especially north of King Blvd., according to some residents), many are just teens, coerced into the trade by men claiming to be their boyfriends, rapists that abused them and turned them out, or their own history of sexual abuse and neglect. The hold their pimps have on them can be tremendous. It is not unusual for girls show up in juvenile detention centers with their pimps’ names tattooed onto their ribs and so thoroughly victimized that they fight anyone trying to help them get out of the trade. Some don’t believe they could ever be valued for anything other than their bodies, especially after being abused. Others believe their pimps love them and refuse to say anything that would incriminate them.

But, the pimps clearly do not love them.

Spend any time along Western and you’ll see them, stationed in parked cars at corners (and, occasionally, on mountain bikes), perfectly positioned so that they can see everything happening on the street. They are ready to menace their girls or anyone who takes too much of an other-than-recreational interest in their charge(s) at a moment’s notice.

The intense level of neglect a street — and, indeed, a community — must experience (this was the stomping ground of the Grim Sleeper, after all) for it to be able to function so openly as a market facilitates other forms of unhealthy activity, too. While long-time residents tell me that things are much better than they used to be, gang activity and substance abuse, particularly that of those living on (or making a living on) the street, are still major issues in the area.

Dumping is a common occurrence along Western Ave. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Dumping is a common occurrence along Western Ave. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

The combination of these factors can make locals paranoid about interacting with outsiders for fear of being seen as snitching.

And, it can certainly go a long way in keeping a family from feeling comfortable about taking a stroll through the neighborhood, waiting at bus stops, getting to know their neighbors along the Western corridor, or being outside too late in the evening. Read more…

6 Comments

Editorial: Five Changes To Make A Better Los Angeles Mobility Plan

Adverse environmental and health impacts of Los Angeles transportation systems. From L.A. City's draft Mobility Plan.

Adverse environmental, health, and economic impacts of Los Angeles transportation systems. The city’s draft plan still has a way to go to address these big problems. Image from L.A. City’s draft Mobility Plan.

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and finalize your comment submissions for Los Angeles City’s draft Mobility Plan. To learn about the plan, read through plenty of SBLA coverage and review source documents at the project website. Perhaps also read Flying Pigeon’s scathing critique of the plan as a “morally bankrupt symbol of a crumbling society.”

Mobility Plan Comments are due next week: Tuesday May 13th, 2014.

Commenting is important, because I expect that L.A.’s car-centric mainstream will be asking to just keep widening roads and adding more parking spaces. To approve a plan that actually embraces L.A.’s livable future, the city needs to hear from lots of people who want to bike, walk and ride transit. Even if you just comment that you’re a cyclist and you want a plan that keeps you safe, please submit a comment! Submit your comments various ways, probably easiest via email to my.la [at] lacity.org.

Here are five changes I’d like to see made to the plan.

1 – Explicitly Prioritize Mobility Equity Investments In Low Income Areas

As emphasized by Multicultural Communities for Mobility’s Betty Avila, the new mobility plan needs some equity. Transportation investments need to improve mobility, health, and quality of life for Los Angeles’ under-served low-income communities of color.

Advocates fought for inclusion of equity in prioritization of bicycle facilities in the 2010 Bike Plan. On Chapter 4, page 97, the Bike Plan includes a “Bicycle Funding Priority Grading System” which prioritizes bicycle transportation investments in low income areas and also, though less fleshed-out, areas with greatest traffic fatalities and injuries. Though this prioritization system hasn’t been front and center in the mostly-opportunistic bike plan implementation, today it is Los Angeles City policy.

With the proposed Mobility Plan overlaying the approved bike plan, lots of bike-specific programs are being lost, including deletion of this policy to prioritize equity. The new draft Mobility Plan appears to attempt to create a seemingly neutral level playing field. All transportation modes, from walking to bicycling to transit to driving, are upheld together. All L.A. neighborhoods are weighted equally. In the past, this one-size-fits-all approach has led to plenty of car-centric investment privileging haves and degrading have-nots.

The draft Mobility Plan maps out investments in improving conditions for walking, riding transit, and bicycling. Though there are needs for safer and better streets in all L.A. neighborhoods, it makes more sense for the city to spend more of its scarce pedestrian safety dollars in pedestrian-oriented areas, such as Boyle Heights and MacArthur Park, and less in car-centric areas, such as Pacific Palisades.

The plan needs to explicitly prioritize transit, bicycle, and pedestrian investment in under-served areas. The plan needs to include some sort of equity lens, at a minimum like the Bicycle Funding Priority Grading System, preferably something even more effective.

L.A.'s City Planning Department thinks that adding more traffic to these streets will be a good idea. The "Vehicle Enhanced Network" mapped on page 29 of the Mobility Atlas component of L.A.'s proposed Transportation Plan.

L.A.’s City Planning Department thinks that adding more traffic to these streets will be a good idea. The “Vehicle Enhanced Network” mapped on page 29 of the Mobility Atlas component of L.A.’s proposed Transportation Plan.

2 – Delete the Vehicle Enhanced Network

On page 66 of the draft Mobility Plan, after a preamble that laments how poor little Los Angeles didn’t quite build enough freeways, there’s an assertion that a handful of Los Angeles streets actually do need even more cars. Really.

The draft plan calls these streets a “Vehicle Enhanced Network” or VEN. These streets would get features including: more turning restriction, more peak-hour parking restricted lanes, and reverse flow lanes.

VEN streets, mapped on page 29 of the plan’s Mobility Atlas, include Sunset Blvd, Gaffey Street, Victory Boulevard, La Cienega and even Alameda Street in downtown L.A.

The VEN, in one form or another, has been a staple of Los Angeles City transportation planning since roughly the 1920s. After a hundred years of death, injury, smog, greenhouse gas emissions, and erosion of the quality of life in our neighborhoods, do L.A.’s city planners still believe the lie that shoehorning a few more cars onto any of our streets will make anything better or healthier?

Los Angeles spent the last century enhancing its vehicle network, and even drivers aren’t so happy with the results. It’s time to set that failed idea aside.

Sadly, even if the Mobility Plan doesn’t call for continuing to upgrade L.A.’s car capacity, momentum from lots of other forces in play will continue L.A.’s century-long more-cars-everywhere project into the foreseeable future. Car-centric priorities remain embedded in plenty of funding, policy, and “technical” specifics at the city, county, region, state, and federal levels. They don’t need to be in this vision plan, too.

3 – Explicitly End Road Widening

On page 111, the draft Mobility Plan states:

[W]ider roads can result in adverse environmental, public health, and fiscal impacts. Wider roads are more expensive to maintain and enable driving at faster speeds in the short term, which leads to more pollution, noise, and higher risks to bicyclists and pedestrians in the long term.

Many cities, including Pasadena, have explicitly abandoned the expensive and deadly practice of continually reflexively widening roadways. The city of Los Angeles has ended widening downtown, but still continues the destructive practice throughout the rest of the city.  Read more…

Streetsblog SF 4 Comments

Oakland Proposes Parking-Protected Bike Lanes on Telegraph Avenue

Bikes and buses jockey for position along Telegraph Avenue in Temescal. Planners say protected bike lanes are “likely” options on most of Telegraph in Oakland — except for this stretch. Photo: David Jaeger / Jonah Chiarenza, www.community-design.com

The City of Oakland has released preliminary design options [PDF] for a redesign of Telegraph Avenue, which include parking-protected bike lanes, improvements to speed up AC Transit lines, and pedestrian safety upgrades. Planners will hold open house meetings to collect input on the design options starting next week.

“We’re very excited they’ve released a lot of different options,” said Dave Campbell, advocacy director for Bike East Bay. “It’s a very robust set of choices and allows people to make an informed decision on the best ones.”

This is the first time Telegraph is being revisited for a redesign since it was taken out of the East Bay Bus Rapid Transit route that begins construction this fall. The proposal to extend BRT on Telegraph to Berkeley was dropped after merchants fought to preserve car parking.

The Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Implementation Plan looks at the stretch from 57th Street to 20th Street, a few blocks short of Telegraph’s end at Broadway in downtown Oakland, where the Latham Square pilot plaza was prematurely removed. Under some of the proposals, much of Telegraph could get parking-protected bike lanes (a.k.a. “cycle tracks”) by re-purposing traffic lanes and preserving parking lanes.

Oakland’s project website notes that “despite the lack of bike facilities, Telegraph Avenue is one of the most heavily traveled routes for cyclists, with over 1,200 daily cyclists.”

Bike East Bay is “super delighted to see proposed cycle tracks for a good segment of the street, and think there are some good options as well through the section with the freeway underpass,” said Campbell.

Read more…

6 Comments

How Does LA City’s Mobility Plan Modify Its 3-Year-Old Bike Plan?

LA City Planning Dept graphic showing how the bike plan does and doesn't become the Mobility Plan. From the DCP handout: Where did the Bicycle Plan go?

LA City Planning Department graphic showing how the bike plan does and doesn’t become the Mobility Plan. From the DCP handout: Where did the Bicycle Plan go?

Streetsblog readers are probably aware that the city of Los Angeles Department of City Planning (DCP) is currently updating the Transportation Element of the city’s General Plan. The Transportation Element has a great deal of influence over what L.A.’s streets look like, and which uses they prioritize.

The new Transportation Element, called Mobility Plan 2035,  has been released in draft form. For a plan overview, read SBLA’s Mobility Plan review, and also read SBLA’s series of Community Voices on the Mobility Plan: part one, two, and three. Read the plan documents and summaries at the DCP’s LA/2B website. DCP just concluded a series of community forums, but is still receiving public comment through May 13, 2014.

In the past, the Transportation Element included a somewhat independent bike section, called the Bicycle Master Plan. In 2011, after much controversy and struggle, the city adopted its latest bike plan, titled the 2010 Bike Plan. That plan is currently in effect, governing what streets are approved for bike lanes, as well as a host of other bicycle related policies.

At its community forum meetings, DCP distributed a handout entitled Where did the Bicycle Plan go? which states, in part:

The goals, objectives, policies and programs of the 2010 Bicycle Plan are incorporated into Mobility Plan 2035, which lays the policy foundation necessary for the City to plan, design and operate streets that accommodate all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and motorists. [...]

A few components of the 2010 Bicycle Plan have been modified during the Plan’s integration into Mobility Plan 2035. These modifications were made in order to reflect the latest input from the community, as well as to reflect further refinements of the bikeway system.

The details of the “few components [that] have been modified” are not entirely clear.

Bike Plan facilities have been carried over into the new Mobility Plan, but there’s no clear thorough accounting of what’s in and what’s not in. DCP lists a category called “Deferred Backbone” (the gray oval in their chart above) of 195 miles of streets that were approved in 2011, but, in DCP’s designation, just won’t happen before 2035, so they’re out.

The handout also states that the Neighborhood Network is “relatively unchanged.” Relatively unchanged never quite means a little more bikeway mileage. According to the stated totals, the Neighborhood Network appears to have lost 5 miles. The 2010 plan totals say there will be 825 miles of bikeways. The draft Mobility Plan shows a total of 820 miles: 50 miles in the Bicycle Enhanced Network (BEN) plus 770 miles in the remaining Neighborhood Network.

Which 5 miles are missing? Or was new mileage added, and more than five deleted? It’s hard to tell. It’s a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.

Read more…

No Comments

Community Voices on LA Mobility Plan – CHC’s Carson and Lewis Ctr’s Huff

Streetsblog L.A. is continuing coverage of Los Angeles’ draft Mobility Plan 2035. The draft plan is out for comment; SBLA profiled it here. The public is encouraged to submit comments via email, or at a series of Planning Forums taking place through April 12th. The next forum is tomorrow, Saturday March 29th, 9 a.m. to noon, at Boyle Heights City Hall, 2130 E. First St., L.A. 90033.

communityvoices

Streetsblog has asked some local livability leaders to respond to a few simple questions telling us their opinions of the city of Los Angeles draft Mobility Plan 2035. Earlier in the week, SBLA published responses from Betty Avila, Jeff Jacobberger, Carlos Hernandez , and Lois Arkin. Today’s respondents are Community Health Councils’ Malcolm Carson and UCLA Lewis Center’s Herbie Huff

One quick note on terminology: For this article, the following words are more-or-less interchangeable: Mobility-Transportation  and Element-Plan. The document calls itself the “Mobility Plan” though it’s also referred to as the “Mobility Element” or the “Transportation Element” of the General Plan.

D. Malcolm Carson

D. Malcolm Carson

D. Malcolm Carson is General Counsel and Policy Director for Environmental Health at Community Health Councils, a nonprofit health policy organization located in L.A.’s Crenshaw District. Malcolm and his team at CHC work to improve mobility, create more open space, improve air quality, and reduce exposure to toxics in low-income communities of color around Los Angeles. Carson is a former City of Los Angeles Transportation Commissioner and current Mayoral appointee to the South Area Planning Commission.

What’s your overall opinion of Mobility Plan 2035?

Carson: Mobility Plan 2035 is a great first step in encouraging and supporting non-motorized modes of transportation and transit through advancements in design, technology and investment. I do think that it could be improved with stronger and more specific policies and guidelines.
What do you like best in the plan?
The Plan has a strong emphasis on multi-modal safety, infrastructure and encouragement. The “Enhanced Network” framework recognizes the importance of transportation choices. There’s recognition of streets as “public space” for people, not just motor vehicles. The Complete Streets Manual introduces new street design guidelines that supersede outdated engineering policies. The Plan recognizes transportation’s impact on public health.