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Posts from the "Woodland Hills" Category

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The Manhattanization of Warner Center

When I was preparing for my move to Los Angeles in 2006 and 2007, there was a lot of discussion in the media of Mayor Villaraiogsa’s plans to “Manhattanize” Downtown Los Angeles. Opposition to Villaraigosa’s proposals seemed almost as much about the name he chose, than about the substance. Seven years later, Villaraigosa’s vision is pretty much coming to reality, but you never hear of “Manhattanizing” anymore.

The new "zones" for Warner Center.

And that’s probably a good thing. If Downtowners couldn’t stand the thought of being Manhattanized, just think about what Valley residents would think.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council approved Warner Center 2035, which allows 30 million square feet of commercial space and 32 million square feet of residential space in the 1,000 square acre community located in Woodland Hills. The number of residential units doubles from the current plan of 9,000 to 20,000.

But more exciting than the new density, the new plan encourages car-free or car-lite travel. The center is divided into eight districts, each of which has its own internal pedestrian and bicycle circulation plans. Wider sidewalks, areas designated for outdoor eating, and bicycle facilities leading to, and from, the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit line.

Denser development, better transit connections. Sounds a lot like Manhattan to me.

But that’s the appeal of Warner Center 2035. Despite doubling the allowed residential units, the plan seeks to reduce the amount of car trips in the area. Workers who commute to Warner Center are more likely to take advantage of transit options when it is easy and comfortable to move inside the Center once arriving.

Bob Blumenfield is one of the loudest supporters of the plan. He represented the Warner Center area as an Assembly Member before being elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

“This new plan reinvents a Warner Center that was conceived in the 1970’s as a collection of monolithic structures and expansive parking lots into a modern, pedestrian and transit focused community,” said Blumenfield in a press release yesterday. Read more…

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The Victory Boulevard That Could Have Been

On Wednesday evening, I received a phone call from my sister-in-law.  She was calling because she noticed that the road right outside her driveway was re-striped and she thought the outline could change the road from a four-lane arterial street with left hand turn lanes to a two-lane street with bike lanes on either side and a bus-only lane down the middle. 

8_7_09_road.jpgFirst glance at a new Victory Boulevard?
My brother and his wife live on Victory Boulevard on the west side of Shoup Ave, mere feet from where Victory Boulevard recently had its speed limits raised because people were speeding there.  After my call from the Valley, my first thought was that the LADOT had finally figured out the best way to maintain current speed limits wasn't to count on the dysfunctional Assembly Transportation Committee and its car-loving Chairman to change the state law that allows speeders to set the speed limit, but to design roads that encourage people to drive more conservatively and open up the road to all users.

For those not familiar with the area, let me paint a picture.  Victory Boulevard is basically a four lane highway that cuts Woodland Hills into two pieces.  Near Shoup Boulevard is a gigantic, and expanding mall surrounded by acres of parking lots.  Treatments for the road that are on the book include pedestrian over passes, a sure sign that the road is inhospitable to pedestrians.  Remaking Victory Boulevard into a complete street would be a major victory for Livable Streets.

Not shockingly, the LADOT confirmed my suspicion that the new paint isn't an indicator of a new and better design for Victory.  Instead of slowed traffic, bike lanes and better pedestrian accommodations we'll have the same speeded-up traffic we see today.  There's no bus-only lane planned for Victory Boulevard, unless we're talking about the one in Staten Island.

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Council Holds Limit Increases for Two of Four Valley Roads

Buried at the end of the above report on the proposed speed limit increases for four Valley streets came news that the City Council "temporarily" held two of the four speed limit increases on yesterday’s agenda.  Residents of Balboa and Zelzah Avenues can rest a little faster for the time being; hopefully long enough for Paul Krekorian’s legislation to pass and a new process for limit increases to begin.

The rest of the report is a microcosm of what we’ve been talking about for months.  Residents are shocked that anyone would think raising limits on the roads they walk is a good idea, the reporters are confused as to how raising limits is going to slow down traffic and Councilman Zine even admits that the reason limits are rising is because the LAPD  hasn’t enforced speeding laws in recent history.

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Speed Limit Raises Reach Their Last Stop

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It seems like years since the first time I wrote about the LADOT's efforts to increase speed limits on several surface arterial streets in the San Fernando Valley.  Earlier today, one batch of those increases appeared on the City Council's Consent Agenda, traditionally the last place legislation appears before it becomes law.

Despite LADOT's protestations that they really didn't want to oversee speed limit increases but had to because of state law if the police wanted to use radar to enforce the speed; residents opposed these limits for a variety of safety reasons.  That the LADOT also admitted that even if it's hands weren't tied by state laws they would still want to increase these limits to improve traffic flow only angered the community's who's roads are seeing faster traffic more angry.  The Los Angeles Bike Advisory Committee Chair Glen Bailey went so far as to call the public process "dysfunctional" and "idiotic."  His commentary at Streetsblog reflected what he said at a recent City Council Transportation Committee Hearing.

Now the police department says, raise the speed limit and we'll enforce it. Why didn't they enforce the 35 MPH speed limit? They've had at least seven years to obtain compliance and, according to the Department of Transportation's so-called Engineering Report, have failed to do. So now the speeders are forcing the speed limit to be increased, and if the past is any predictor of the future, another increase will be in the offing by 2013. Idiotic!

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Tomorrow’s Panel of Visionaries at Woodland Hills Includes Greuel, Feuer, and Shoup

Back east, NYC Streetsblog loves UCLA Professor and "Parking Rock Star" Donald Shoup.  Shoup is best known for advancing the theory that there is a high cost to a community of undercharging for public parking.  While LA Streetsblog would certainly count ourselves as fans of the professor and his work; I’ve always found it ironic that the LA based professor gets so much more play from advocates on the east coast than on the west coast.

Well, tomorrow’s your chance to hear Shoup speak on parking and local issues without enrolling at UCLA.  The distinguished professor, along with Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, and former Metro Board Member Allison Yoh at the next installment of the Woodland Hills/Warner Center Neighborhood Council’s Panel of Visionaries.  Tomorrow’s meeting will be be held at the AMC Promenade Theater from 8:30 am to 12:00 noon.  For a copy of the neighborhood council’s press release, read on after the jump.

Read more…

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“Westfield Village” to Present 3.8 Million Square Foot Development Plan

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Wednesday evening, the Westfield Group will be presenting its plans for the "Village of Westfield Toanga," a mixed-use, non-residential development located between the Westfield Topanga Mall and the Westfield Promenade Mall in Woodland Hills.  The Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council meeting will begin at 6 P.M. at Woodland Academy.

Tenants for the mega-project haven’t been announced, but we do know one thing.  The Village is going to be big.  Combined with the malls that malls that will border The Village on its east and west sides Westfield will control 3.8 million square feet of developed property.  The Daily News reports:

An environmental impact report is expected by
year’s end, laying out plans for mitigating the effects of the
35million visitors the project is expected to draw each year – about
twice the number who flock to The Grove in Hollywood.

The three major components – The Village and the two
Westfield malls – will cover 3.8 million square feet, the developer has
said, so the complex will be bigger than South Coast Plaza in Orange
County or Del Amo Fashion Centerin Torrance.

Seeking to avoid the sprawling effects such projects have been known to bring in other areas, the Neighborhood Council has been actively bringing in experts and visionaries to help the community plan for its needs and desires for the roads surrounding the complex and moving into the community.

Image: Daily News

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Everybody is Looking for Their Own Great Streets

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Residents Discuss What Is a Great Street at a Breakout Session Last Saturday

From the AARP to the Sacramento Bee, it seems that everyone is talking about the problems with designing roadways with the singular goal of moving automobile traffic.  Locally, a vote on complete streets legislation is expected in the California State Senate soon and in Woodland Hills, the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council is holding a series of forums to discuss what they consider a "great street" for their neighborhood. 

Saturday, the Neighborhood Council held it's second "Panel of Visionaries" to discuss transportation in the Woodland Hills area.   The first panel, "Destiny in the Valley" drew hundreds of attendees and their second panel, "What is a Great Street" also packed the house this weekend.

The main message from Saturday's panel is that often the people considered enemies of Smart Growth could be its greatest allies if engaged correctly.  Mott Smith, a self-described greedy developer, lectured that developers who want to make money provide the amenities called for by local zoning.  If the zoning and community plans call for transportation plans that move cars at the expense of non-drivers, then that's the transportation plan that developers will advance.

Caltrans' District Seven Director Doug Failing similarly surprised attendees when he was asked what he considered a Great Street.  Failing didn't discuss a wide car-oriented throughway, but a road with wide sidewalks, bike lanes, and well marked pedestrian crossings.

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Hundreds Show Up to Discuss “Destiny of the Valley”

Zev Yaraslavsky, Joyce Pearson, Stephen Box

Stephen Box reports that last weekend's "Destiny in the Valley" conference, hosted by the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council, was a success. When a community comes out in force to discuss fixing their neighborhood through an improved and integrated transportation network, government agencies and elected officials take notice.

Stephen writes:

As for news, the "Destiny of the West Valley" Community Forum was a tremendous success.

Over 300 people joined us and demonstrated a significant commitment to making Woodland Hills Warner Center a great neighborhood.

The day began with the usual questions about 311 and potholes but after the "Panel of Visionaries" had presented and after Zev had urged them to take charge of their neighborhood, we ended up with an auditorium of community leaders asking "What next, what next?"

What next, indeed?  Unfortunately it takes more than an excited and energized community meeting to redevelop a community.  If they can keep it up, Woodland Hills Warner Center could become a hot bed for Livable Streets and Smart Growth.  To read the Neighborhood Council's press release, read on after the break.

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Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council Hosts “Density in the Valley”

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The Woodland Hills Warner Center Community faces a tsunami of development. The Westfield Village bulldozers are revving, the Warner Center Specific Plan update is underway and the 3rd densest employment center in the City is besieged with gridlock.

The community needs a plan to fight back and reclaim their streets.  To that end the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Community Council has assembled a panel of visionaries to discuss the problem and elicit feedback from the community at an open meeting this Saturday at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital Auditorium from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The public is invited to join in the discussion on the issues and opportunities that challenge our neighborhood including traffic congestion, urban design, water reclamation, energy conservation, mass transit, accessibility, mobility, walkability and livability.

The panelists includes:

  • Bart Reed, Transit Coalition Executive Director
  • Joyce Pearson, Chair of the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council
  • Denny Zane, the former Mayor of Santa Monica during the revitalization of the Third Street Promenade
  • Larry E. Smith, Executive Director of North East Trees
Photo:Wikipedia
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Metro Picks Locally Preferred Alternative for Orange Line Extension

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Metro moved a step closer to extending the Orange Line today when it released a Locally Preferred Alternative for an extension from Canoga Park to Chatsworth.  As Metro notes in its press release, the Metro Board still needs to approve the staff’s recommendation and then go into the final environmental review before the project can be funded and built.

You can read Metro’s full release after the jump:

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