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Posts from the "Downtown LA" Category

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Eyes On The Street: Broadway’s Got New Bulb-Outs

Work is underway for Downtown L.A.'s Broadway "Dress Rehearsal." The street has fresh new striping for bulb-outs, also new zebra crosswalks. photo Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Work is underway for Downtown L.A.’s Broadway “Dress Rehearsal.” The street has fresh new striping for bulb-outs, also new zebra crosswalks. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Crews are out this week doing striping and new crosswalks for a project called Broadway’s Dress Rehearsal. Broadway is, arguably, Los Angeles’ most heavily pedestrian street. The current project reallocates former car-lane space to make way for pedestrians. It’s no secret that the transformation here is inspired by NYC’s relatively-inexpensive street plazas, including Times Square.

Streetsblog L.A. reviewed the overall project earlier, and subsequently reported on implementation timelines. There’s plenty more project details at Bringing Back Broadway.

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City Leaders Shepherding MyFigueroa Stakeholders Toward Consensus

Graphic from Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition's analysis of the past 10 years' traffic injuries and fatalities. Car collisions seriously injured 1453 persons and killed 2. Source: LACBC

Graphic from Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s analysis of the past 10 years’ traffic injuries and fatalities on South Figueroa Street in the MyFigueroa project stretch. Car collisions seriously injured 1453 persons and killed 2. Click graphic to enlarge. Source: LACBC

The long-anticipated MyFigueroa project made another appearance at the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee yesterday. With more than a hundred supporters in attendance, a great deal of staff work, political leadership, and a stakeholder summit process underway, it appears that MyFigueroa may be on track to break ground some day in the not too distant future.

The PLUM committee heard from staff and the public, made requests based on recommendations that came from a stakeholder working group, and pushed the item off for three more weeks.

MyFigueroa is expected to include the city of L.A.’s first significant stretch of protected bike lanes, as well as various improvements to make all road users’ experiences safer and better. The project extends from Downtown L.A. into Exposition Park. In the works since 2008, the project snagged on auto dealership (Shammas Auto Group) opposition in 2013, and has been stalled, churning its way through City Council committees ever since

Yesterday’s PLUM hearing began with a presentation by staff from the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the Department of Transportation (LADOT.) Staff responded to L.A. City Councilmember Curren Price’s motion (13-1124) directing staff to analyze “[a]lternatives … to removing traffic lanes on S. Figueroa Street.” My Figueroa proposes removing one southbound travel lane on South Figueroa (from 7th Street to Martin Luther King Blvd) to add two-way protected bikeways. Price and others have expressed interest in a paired couplet of one-way bikeways instead: northbound only on Figueroa Street and southbound only on adjacent Flower Street. DCP and LADOT reported that they had analyzed this Flower couplet possibility, but advised against it, as it would require removing two travel lanes on Flower, resulting in “more traffic bottlenecks” than the MyFigueroa project as planned.

Following the staff presentation, Councilmember Price’s Deputy Chief of Staff Paloma Pérez-McEvoy and Mayor Garcetti’s transportation staffer Marcel Porras stepped to the podium. Pérez-McEvoy and Porras related that, last week, Price, Garcetti and Councilmember Jose Huizar had convened a 4-hour “summit” meeting of Figueroa corridor stakeholders and bike advocates. Pérez-McEvoy expressed that the meeting had gone well, but that there were still some “small” issues including ingress and egress,  traffic impacts, and procedures for closing lanes for filming. Porras reported that the summit was pulled together quickly, had gone well, and that parties were all working together.  Read more…

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Eyes On The Street: Second Street Tunnel’s Semi-Protected Bikeway

The sorry state of L.A.'s only protected bike lane. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Down. Missing. Missing. The sorry state of L.A.’s first and only protected bike lane. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Sahra Sulaiman, SBLA’s Communities Editor for Boyle Heights and South L.A. took this photo last Sunday, showing the flattened and missing pylons in the Second Street Tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles. This is Los Angeles’ first and only protected bikeway.

Just last night, she spotted two cars that had collided parked in the westbound bike lane, with a tow truck parked just ahead of them and a cop car parked behind them. They were able to stay out of car traffic that way, but it made things a little dicey for anyone biking westward. There was a substantial trail of reflector and other debris left in their wake later that night, but, miraculously, the pylons in that vicinity remained upright and in place.

Sahra’s email alerting us can be found after the jump.

Readers: Let us know your ideas! Is there something that the city of Los Angeles can do to keep the Second Street “candlesticks” in place? Video surveillance? Razor wire? Air bags? Concrete barriers? relocate some Metro turnstiles? A traffic study? Relocating the Great Wall of Los Angeles? Emotionally intelligent signage? Maybe just build a protected bikeway elsewhere to take the debilitating pressure off of this brave tunnel?

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Los Angeles Revisits Its Zoning Code via “re:code LA” Process

The city of Los Angeles Department of City Planning is hosting a series of seven community planning forums running now through April 12th. Tonight’s forum is at Metro HQ in Downtown L.A. from 5-8pm. The forums are for public feedback on three citywide planning processes: re:code L.A.Mobility Plan 2035, and Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles. Streetsblog is previewing the citywide initiatives; today it’s the city’s zoning code update. See earlier SBLA coverage of the Health Plan and Transportation Plan.

From re:code LA website - the original zoning code pamphlet from 1946, next to the 1978 and 2013 versions

From re:code LA website – the original zoning code pamphlet from 1946, next to the 1978 and 2013 versions

L.A.’s Department of City Planning (DCP) has been busy with three initiatives that have the potential to shape livability for many years to come. The three plans are for health, transportation, and, well, something that just doesn’t lend itself to a jargon-free soundbite: modernizing the zoning code.

Zoning code is the city’s set of rules that mostly determine what can be built, where it can be built, and how it’s used. It specifies various aspects of development from how tall a building can be, how much signage is allowed, what industries are allowed in what areas, and how much off-street parking is required.

Here is a sample from the current zoning code:

Off-Street Automobile Parking Requirements. A garage or an off-street automobile parking area shall be provided in connection with and at the time of the erection of each of the buildings or structures hereinafter specified, or at the time such buildings or structures are altered, enlarged, converted or increased in capacity by the addition of dwelling units, guest rooms, beds for institutions, floor area or seating capacity.  The parking space capacity required in said garage or parking area shall be determined by the amount of dwelling units, guest rooms, beds for institutions, floor area or seats so provided, and said garage or parking area shall be maintained thereafter in connection with such buildings or structures.

The new zoning code effort goes by its nickname re:code LA, billed as “A New Zoning Code for a 21st Century Los Angeles.” Of the three citywide initiatives, re:code arguably the least comprehensible to the general public and the least far along. The re:code project started in 2013 and is expected to be completed in 2017. 

From this early in the process, the final results aren’t entirely clear, but a lot of re-code work appears to be neutral; it’s mostly re-writing and re-organizing rules that are already in place. Generally, the re-write doesn’t change policy. If you work in an commercial area, re:code won’t change it into a residential area. Zoning has been established for every part of Los Angeles, and re:code generally won’t be changing what’s approved. It will add new options that can take effect later. The format will change, too. Instead of a paper pamphlet, it will be a whizbang contemporary user-friendly web-based document.

For example, if a neighborhood has too many liquor stores, the new code won’t change the number of liquor stores allowed, but may provide streamlined rules that could help limit future liquor stores. Generally, that streamlined rule wouldn’t go into effect when re:code is adopted in 2017, but would become available to be later added to local planning documents – community plans, specific plans, etc. So, don’t expect to see any re:code changes affecting your street any time soon.

Read more…

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MyFigueroa Project Picking Up Key Neighborhood Council Support

MyFigueroa planned improvements on 11th Street leading to Figueroa Street. Image from MyFigueroa website

MyFigueroa planned improvements on 11th Street leading to Figueroa Street. Image from MyFigueroa website

MyFigueroa is picking up some steam as the city’s decision on an appeal of the project’s certification  approaches.

MyFigueroa is the city of L.A.’s innovative downtown complete streets project, in the works since 2008. The project extends from Downtown L.A. (from the 7th and Fig outdoor mall) into South L.A.(to Exposition Park), and features pedestrian, transit, and bicycle improvements, including what will be the city’s first protected bike lane. MyFigueroa was approved by the City Council in 2013,  but an appeal ended up putting the project before the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee in late January 2014, when approval was put on hold for “30 days.” In city-timeline-speak, thirty days is usually equal to two to four months.

The project is expect to return to PLUM any day now, so MyFig proponents have been making the rounds to reaffirm the broad public support that MyFig enjoys. Many Neighborhood Councils have passed resolutions supporting MyFig, but are now weighing in with letters urging prompt approval.

Just last week, MyFig got a boost from the Empowerment Congress North Area Neighborhood Development Council (NANDC.) According to MyFigueroa advocate Michael MacDonald, NANDC voted to approve sending a letter to the city’s PLUM committee at their March 6th meeting. The motion stated that NANDC supports the project as an investment in the community, and, further, urges the city to proceed with the project as designed rather than risk its funding through redesign.

Last night, MyFig was on the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council’s (DLANC) agenda. At the beginning of the meeting the board was presented with an award in honor of their advocacy for complete streets by Councilmember Jose Huizar. Public comment was unanimous in support of MyFig, and the DLANC approved this MyFig support letter by a vote of 16 in favor, none opposed, one abstaining. Here’s a selection from the DLANC letter: Read more…

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More Eyes on the Street: 2nd Street Protected Bike Lane Damaged in Crash

Photo: Sahra Sulaiman

Compare and Contrast. Photo: Sahra Sulaiman

Some time in the last couple of days, the 2nd Street protected bike lane was damaged when a car crashed through the pylons into the side of the 2nd Street Tunnel heading into Downtown Los Angeles. Sahra Sulaiman snapped this picture yesterday and reports that at least three of the barrier pylons were removed, a trail of debris was left behind, and even a tire can be seen in the picture.

LADOT is aware of the crash and immediately put in an order for the pylons to be replaced. As Jon Kirk Mukri often complains, there is a backlog of LADOT road projects so there is no timeline on when the pylons might reappear. They might be there already. It might take weeks.

There are no details released to the public on the crash. This could mean that it has not been reported.

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Buffered Bike Lanes in Downtown Los Angeles and Regular Lanes Through Second Street Tunnel

Images: Ryan Johnson

Images: Ryan Johnson

Getting to Downtown Los Angeles from points west seems to be getting easier every day. For the past several weeks, Streetsblog covered the addition of new bike lanes on 7th Street that link up with existing lanes in the Downtown. This weekend, the city striped new lanes through the iconic 2nd Street Tunnel into the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.

The new lanes will extend from North Spring Street, home of the famous sorta-green buffered bike lane, through the tunnel to Glendale Boulevard. The portion of the lanes in Downtown Los Angeles are buffered lanes, matching up with the Northbound buffered lanes on Main Street and Southbound ones on Spring. The project also connects with existing Sharrows on 2nd street from Alameda to Spring Street.

While the project isn’t quite completed yet, the early returns are good. Reader Brian Retchiess wrote on Friday, “I dunno about you, but my trips to Echo Park are about to get a lot nicer!” Read more…

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Despite Calls for Boycott, Los Angeles and Long Beach to Continue Relationship with Troubled BYD

Protestors outside BYD's office off Figueroa.

Protestors outside BYD's office off Figueroa.

Several labor and social justice organizations—thirteen to be exact—called on the three public agencies engaged with bus manufacturer BYD Motors to boycott their engagement while protesting in front of BYD’s office in Downtown LA. However, despite all the shouting, chanting, and finger-pointing, all three agencies—LA Metro, Long Beach Transit (LBT), and the City of Los Angeles—are not making any moves that indicate they will abandon the troubled bus manufacturer.

BYD faces multiple issues since garnering two of the nation’s largest electric bus contracts—one with Metro and the other with LBT—including the recent admission at a LBT board meeting that seven of the nine subassemblies for the new fleet were not approved for use. This came just two weeks after welding issues were discovered in the frames and bracket installation and just two months after cracks were discovered near the rear of the BYD bus undergoing Altoona testing. They were also provided $1.2M by the City of Los Angeles to help build their offices off of Figueroa, where the protest was held.

Most recently, two major national stories—one for the New York Times and the other for the Los Angeles Times—has uncovered that the State of California is investigating BYD for labor violations that amount to 112 citations and nearly $20K in back wage violations after it was discovered that BYD had employed Chinese nationals with a $1.50/hr wage.

“They have been cited by the State of California so extensively that we know [these labor violations are] actually happening,” said Madeline Janis, National Policy Director of Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). “We call on these three public agencies [LBT, LA Metro, and the City of Los Angeles] to sever or at least reconsider their ties.”

However, these groups are going to have to do more than protest, as LA Metro was quite succinct in their response:

“We are continuing with the Board-approved zero-emission bus program,” said Dave Sotero of Metro. Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: The DTLA 7th Street Bike Lanes Look Pretty Good

Photo: Our New BFF, Lauren Grabowski/Facebook

The new bike lanes, continental crosswalks and road diet for 7th Street through Downtown Los Angeles are getting close to completion. The lanes connect to the previously painted 7th Street lanes that connect mid-town to Downtown and the Main Street buffered bike lane that runs north to City Hall.

As of this writing, the lanes are nearing completion, an LADOT Bike Blog post on Friday notes that painting, sign removal, sign replacement and a change in parking restrictions is an ongoing process. Downtown residents report that work continued this weekend, although Streetsblog has yet to confirm whether the project was finnished.

When completed, lanes now run for 2.8 miles on 7th Street from Catalina Street in mid-town to Main Street. Read more…

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7th Street in Downtown Los Angeles Goes on a Diet

Commuters into Downtown Los Angeles were surprised this morning to note that 7th Street had gone on a crash diet overnight. For .6 miles, between Figueroa and Main Streets, bicycle lanes were installed and a mixed-use travel lane was removed.

The new lanes are a key part in making connections in Downtown Los Angeles. The lanes connect to the previously painted 7th Street lanes that connect mid-town to Downtown and the Main Street buffered bike lane that runs north to City Hall. The lanes now run for 2.8 miles on 7th Street from Catalina Street in mid-town to Main Street.

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition half-joked on twitter that “the LACBC offices now have bike lanes on three sides.”

But while celebrating the addition to the network is good, Streetsblogger Niall Huffman points out that the installation either would have been delayed or would not have happened without a state law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September of 2012. So, maybe we have to give Jerry Brown some credit as well.

AB 2245 provides for a CEQA exemption for Class II bikeway (bike lane) projects. According to the LADOT bike blog, under the former guidelines some bike lane projects in the City of L.A.  would have required an EIR if their traffic impacts were over specified thresholds.

That wasn’t the case here as the new lanes were put in and no environmental study was required, even though 7th Street lost a mixed use lane.

If you’ve ridden the lanes, let us know your experience in the comments section.