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Posts from the "The Valley" Category

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Metro Raising Parking Rates for NoHo and Universal; Most Parking Still Free

Parking lot at Metro's Universal City Red Line Station. Most spaces are free to the driver, but several hundred monthly permit spaces will see a rate increase this July.

Parking lot at Metro’s Universal City Red Line Station. Most spaces remain free to the driver, but several hundred San Fernando Valley monthly permit spaces will see a rate increase this July. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

As of July 1st 2014, Metro will raise monthly permit parking rates for two of its most popular and most sold-out parking lots. Metro’s North Hollywood Red Line Station monthly parking permit will go from $39 to $59. Universal City Station monthly parking permits will go from $39 to $55.

SBLA has been critical of Metro’s ineffective and fiscally-irresponsible parking policies. These increases are a worthwhile small step in the right direction. The increases help Metro make parking available to people who need it, while lessening parking cost burdens on the vast majority of Metro’s riders whose trips do not begin with driving.

As of July 2014, Metro will increase monthly parking permit rates for two popular San Fernando Valley Red Line Stations. Screenshot parkmetro.com

As of July 2014, Metro will increase monthly parking permit rates for two popular San Fernando Valley Red Line Stations. Screenshot parkmetro.com this morning

The majority of parking at these Metro stations remains free.

At least free to drivers.

Well, free to those drivers who show up by 6:30am or so.  Read more…

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San Fernando Votes To Move Forward With Pacoima Wash Bikeway

Salvador Valentin, of Bikesan@s del Valle collective, and his son Isaac testify in support of the Pacoima Wash Bikeway. The San Fernando City Council approved moving forward with pursuing state funding for the project.

Salvador Valentin, of Bikesan@s del Valle collective, and his son Isaac testify in support of the Pacoima Wash Bikeway. The San Fernando City Council approved moving forward with pursuing state funding for the project.

Last night, the city of San Fernando moved a step closer to constructing a new bike path along the Pacoima Wash. The city council voted unanimously, 5-0, in favor of seeking California state Active Transportation Program (ATP) funding. If everything goes smoothly, the Pacoima Wash Bikeway would open to the public in early 2017.

The bike path will extend the full 1.6-mile length of the Pacoima Wash within the City of San Fernando, from roughly San Fernando Road to Foothill Boulevard. It will also connect with the city’s existing rail-with-trail bike path that runs between San Fernando Road and the Metrolink railroad tracks. That bike path is currently being extended eastward, with construction underway within the city of Los Angeles.

The Pacoima Wash is a tributary of the Los Angeles River. It runs more-or-less north-south through the San Fernando Valley, through the city of San Fernando and neighborhoods within the city of Los Angeles including Sylmar, Pacoima, and Arleta, where it joins the Tujunga Wash. Like many southland creeks, the Pacoima Wash is encased in concrete and fenced off.

In 2000, the city of San Fernando adopted a plan for parks and bicycle and pedestrian paths along the Pacoima Wash. The city sought and obtained project funding from Metro’s 2007 Call for Projects. In 2008, the nonprofit Pacoima Beautiful obtained County Public Health PLACE grant funding to extend Pacoima greenway planning to San Fernando’s adjacent city of L.A. neighborhoods. Pacoima Beautiful spearheaded the planning process for the Pacoima Wash Vision Plan, which calls for a 2.6-mile bikeway connecting with the Angeles National Forest.

There are two new small Pacoima Wash parks already underway, both collaborations between cities and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA.) The city of San Fernando’s 8th Street Park is complete and ready for its grand opening, anticipated very soon. Nearby downstream, in the city of L.A.’s Pacoima neighborhood, El Dorado Park is funded and currently being designed.

Things appeared to be moving along well, albeit slowly, for Pacoima Wash revitalization. Then Metro pulled back its funding, requiring that San Fernando instead apply for state ATP funding. This triggered the need for a new vote at the San Fernando City Council, where elected officials and staff are almost all new since the 2007 Metro funding was obtained. Read more…

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Vroom! Speed Limit Increases Head Back to City Council, But Do They Have To?


View 2 7 12 speed limits in a larger map

A trio of speed limit proposals head to the City Council Transportation Committee tomorrow.  The proposals total 5.4 miles of city streets that would see a limit increase. Half of those miles would see a dramatic increase from 35 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour. The areas due for an increase are:

A team of advocates including representatives from Los Angeles Walks, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Ridazz, an online general assembly of concerned cyclists, is planning to lobby the Committee to hold back the limit increases.  Councilmen have begrudgingly passed similar increases in the past in an effort to support LAPD traffic enforcement.

“In order for Los Angeles to truly become a bicycle friendly city, the city needs put a moratorium on speed limit increases and address managing speeds by evaluating how our roadways are engineered. Roadway design & engineering influence travel speeds and we need to implement solutions on our roadways that are going to create safer streets that encourage good driving behavior instead of rewarding speeding by constantly increasing the speed limit,” argues Alexis Lantz with the LACBC.
State law requires that speed limits be set to the 85th percentile of free flowing traffic in order for police to use radar to enforce the limits.  Efforts to overhaul the law have consistently run into roadblocks for speeding traffic advocates such as the AAA and California Highway Patrol.   However, a law passed last year allows cities to “round down” if they believe that increased limits would create a dangerous environment.  All of these proposals were authored in 2010, a full year before A.B. 529 was signed into law.

Read more…

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Daily News: Valley Needs Smart Transit

An editorial in today’s Daily News calls for smart, strategic transit investments in the San Fernando Valley to insure that The Valley streets don’t resemble their clogged counterparts on the Westside.  Including their editorial two weeks ago wondering when the SFV is going to get CicLAvia, this marks the second time in October that the Valley’s paper of record is asking for more progressive transportation options.

The Westfield Promenade in Woodland Hills is one major development with limited transportation options. Photo: Wikimedia

The key to making a more crowded Valley work is to embrace mass transit — sooner and more intelligently than other parts of the region have done.

For years, lots of people who lived in the Valley drove to West Los Angeles for work or nightlife. Once there, we encountered some of the worst freeway and street traffic in Greater L.A. That side of town failed to do public transportation right, and they paid dearly.

The Daily News goes on to make the point that transit service needs to serve existing destinations as well as planned future destinations.

More people are coming to the Valley. We must accept it, and make smart choices about transportation and planning to avoid the mistakes of the Westside.

Congratulations to the Daily News. With two quick editorials, the paper has rocketed to the front of the list of sustainable transportation print publications.  Maybe there’s a secondary benefit to having Dakota Smith wandering the news room.

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Metro Is Looking for Transit Options for Van Nuys Boulevard: Let’s Help Them Out

What's the best transit option for Van Nuys Boulevard

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Yesterday, the Daily News reported on a series of public meetings (including ones tonight and tomorrow) designed to solicit feedback on what rapid transit option makes the most sense for the densest and most congested portion of Van Nuys Boulevard.  $68.5 million has been set aside for this project from Measure R and Metro hopes it can be up and running by 2018.

But for now, we don’t even know what “it” is.  The Metro team has four very basic concepts for a 10.25-mile long project on Van Nuys Boulevard between the 210 Freeway and Ventura Boulevard: a “no-build” option of “street improvements,” a “Portland-style” Streetcar, an “Orange-Line” style rapid bus or “Expo Line” style light rail.  The project area is almost a mile wide, so they have room for completely separated transit ways, and maybe even enough for bike paths as well.

Any of the proposed alternatives, except the “no-build,” is going to require additional funding from somewhere.  The 14 mile original Orange Line cost $325 million and Phase 1 of the Expo Line is estimated to cost $930 million. Read more…

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End Goal in Pacoima: A Wash That’s Beautiful

The Pacoima Wash Vision Plan doesn't choose between modes, but seeks to accommodate all of them. That's one reason that the rift between cyclists and horse riders that was so apparent during the Bike Plan process is not even on the map. All renderings via Mia Lehrer and Associates.

One of the lessons that the world’s great cities learned is how to use natural and man created landmarks to strengthen and create great places. This is one area where Los Angeles still lags, and nowhere is this clearer than in the case of the Pacoima Wash.

The Wash is a tributary of the Los Angeles River (actually a tributary of a tributary, but who’s counting) that runs through the San Fernando Valley from the Pacoima Dam southwest through Sylmar, the city of San Fernando and eventually Pacoima. Instead of being a vibrant open space designed to connect disparate communities and bring people together outdoors, the Wash is a physical barrier as real as a freeway or freight rail line. The land surrounding the Wash is kept behind fences, the trail running parallel is closed to the public and behind bars, instead of people, the Wash’s greenspace is a resting ground for weeds.

But a non-profit environmental justice organization known as Pacoima Beautiful wants to change all that. And with the help of the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s Policies for Livable and Active Communities and Environments (PLACE) Grant they will soon have an official plan to help do so. The first step in the process of turning the Wash from eye sore to community anchor is to create a vision for the area, a vision that is informed by representative of the community, and that’s what Pacoima Beautiful and its allies are trying to do.

“Pacoima Wash is a very important natural, open space to the community so we’re protecting it,” supplies Anita Cerna with the City of Los Angeles Department of Planning. “Now we’re also studying the Wash to see if there’s a way we can use it beyond being a place to collect water”

And help for the community can’t come soon enough. Pacoima is a desert when it comes to open space, even with the large Ritchie Valens Park located just off the 118 Highway. Pacoima has 54.3 acres of park space. According to the LA City General Plan, the ideal ratio of park space is 4 acres per 1,000 residents. Because Pacoima has over 100,000 people its ideal ratio,is close to 400 acres of park space. Read more…

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The Real Lessons of Carmageddon – Angelenos Aren’t Idiots, We Have Too Many Highways

This banner appeared over the I-10 briefly on Saturday morning. L.A. without cars? It was kind of nice. Photo: Jonathan Weiss

There are two theories to transportation engineering and traffic.  One theory is that traffic is like a raging river.  If you block it in one place, it will flow someplace else.  If you add more space for it to flow, it will flow more smoothly.  This theory has dominated traffic and transportation plans for years.

This theory got kicked in the shins over the last weekend.

The other theory is that people make choices based on what they believe makes the most sense at the time.  Under that theory, if you spend a disproportionate amount of resources building and expanding highways, people will drive, even for short trips that could easily be completed on bike or foot.

If you believe the first theory, this weekend’s temporary closure of the I-405, “the most driven highway in the country,” should have been a disaster.  There should have been drivers everywhere stuck on surface streets and gridlock should have clogged up all the freeways as people used their high-tech Waze application to “Beat Carmageddon” by exercising their God-given right to drive wherever they want to.  If you believe the second, then everything should have been fine.

The sad thing is, most transportation planners, especially ones working in Greater Los Angeles, still seem to believe the first theory.  After all, while the city and surrounding area benefitted tremendously from the closure of the 405, the reason the project was closed was so that they could expand the freeway, creating another pipe to flush our car traffic through.

Sig alert.com at 3:47 P.M. on Saturday

Read more…

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Eyes on the Street: Oh, Wilbur…

All pictures by Glenn Bailey

Traveling Southbound on Wilbur

Have you ever tried to brake on pine needles?

If the newly-restriped .3 mile area of Wilbur Avenue was supposed to be a compromise between the LADOT, City Council Office, advocates of fast moving car traffic, bicyclists and residents, it appears the LADOT put the politics of the situation over the road diet ahead of responsible engineering.

Glenn Bailey, a mayoral appointee to the city’s bike advisory committee, snaps these three pictures of the restriped area, each of which presents its own problems.

The first picture is clearly the oddest.  Bailey snapped this picture of a “cars in the right hand lane must turn right,” which makes little sense as the “right hand lane” is supposed to be a bike lane.  If cyclists are proceeding south and motor vehicles are required to turn right from their lane across the path of cyclists, this is inherently dangerous and a potential liability for the City.

The second picture places the bike lane on the other side of the right-hand turn lane, which is inconsistent with the first photo.  To make matters worse, there is no signage designating the turn lane at the next intersection.

Last, we’ve already noted that the new bike lanes have been moved to the gutter, are covered in slippery pine needles, and that nobody is taking responsibility for keeping the lanes clean andsafe.  That situation remains unchanged.  To make matters worse, the “Mayall Merge” that Don Ward refers to in his videos is a high-speed merge.  When you combine high speed cars and bikes that lose control on the pine needles, what was once a “road diet” becomes a death trap waiting to happen.

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Chalk on the Ground, Bike Lanes in the Gutter, Faster Cars: A Wilbur Ave. Update

When we last checked in on the embattled Wilbur Avenue Road Diet, Councilman Greig Smith had ordered asked the LADOT to move forward with a “compromise” proposal that would maintain continuous bike lanes along the 2.3 mile diet but would return the northern .3 miles of the old diet to a four lane road. The merge will occur just south of the lighted intersection at Devonshire where four lanes will go to three and the reduced diet will begin

Defying most standards, part of the Wilbur Avenue Bike Lanes have been pushed in to the gutter. Photo: Don Ward

At the time, we only had an engineering sketch of what the new configuration would look like. Today, the “undieted” area of Wilbur Avenue has been chalked for four lanes, with more permanent paint going on the ground any day now, and we can say with certainty this is one ugly piece of road.

The most obvious issue is with the bike lanes.  Not only is half of the new bike lane situated in the gutter, in conflict with federal safety guidelines for lane design, but much of that gutter is routinely covered in pine needles which could force some cyclists out of the lane and into traffic.  Because of the presence of the lane, cars wouldn’t expect cyclists to merge into “their” lane and conflicts could occur.

The second issue is one that is more apparent to residents of Wilbur Avenue than to visitors or even commuters.  Don Ward, a resident of Wilbur Avenue and author of the website Safe Streets Northridge, explains.

…the proposed solution to the back up problem at Devonshire is to create a 2 lane merge immediately south of Devonshire to shift the peak traffic backup. However, anyone and everyone who has looked at this plan can see the induced drag race scenario that will play out with every green light at Devonshire south as traffic crazed parents and commuters will suddenly find themselves having to compete for position right up to the Mayall intersection. Some drivers will be slowing to make a right turn while other drivers will just be settling into their merged position, while still others focused on their left side mirrors and traffic behind them will have less attention to pay to what’s in front of them.

More recently, Ward has posted a YouTube video showing how speeding cars are changing Wilbur for the worst as a result of the new merge.

Read more…

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Revitalizing San Fernando Road through Landscaping

The Sylmar Business Improvement District (BID) is seeking to improve and re-imagine a just-over-half-mile section of San Fernando Boulevard through the power of greenspace creation and landscaping.  The BID isn’t seeking to change the use of the road, all changes will happen on existing medians.  Instead, they just want to make San Fernando Boulevard a more pleasant place to be.

For more images of the Sylmar Vista Project, click here.

Last week, the BID, Councilman Richard Alarcón and the Community Redevelopment Association celebrated the groundbreaking for an interesting and colorful project that will replace concrete medians with plants, flowers, trees, benches and waste stations.  The stated goal of the project is  to beautify an ugly piece of road and create an attractive place for people to walk and bike between Hubbard Street and Polk Street, the entire jurisdiction of the BID.

The commercial property owners within this district pay a self-imposed annual assessment to improve the economic vitality.  In this case, businesses aren’t just committing to maintain the investment in a beautified Sylmar, they’re also putting their own skin in the game by paying for part of the construction.  The CRA has granted another $350,000 towards improving the roadway making the project a true public/private partnership.  The BID already paid for the planting of 36 trees and an entryway to the area announcing “The Vista at Sylmar” and will add the benches and other street decorations. Read more…