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Posts from the Jose Huizar Category

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The Butterfly Effect: Privileging Form (and Speedy Implementation) over Function Yields Semi-Obsolete Street Furniture in Boyle Heights

A butterfly bike rack perches on 1st St. in Boyle Heights. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A butterfly bike rack perches on 1st St. in Boyle Heights. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

When the butterflies, flowers, and decorative benches first started popping up along 1st Street in Boyle Heights last year, reviews were mixed.

Okay…

That’s not really true — the reviews I heard were largely not that great.

Particularly from business owners that had been given some advance notice — but no choice and no recourse — about what would be appearing outside their front doors.

A large yellow butterfly stakes out space in front of Espacio 1839. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A very large yellow butterfly stakes out space in front of Espacio 1839. Staff there said they had originally been told they would be getting a flower bike rack. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

After the large ficus trees that had destroyed the street’s sidewalks had been ripped out, the sidewalks repaired, and new trees planted, the colorful bike racks that appeared soon after were a bit incongruous with the new landscape.

The reference to the natural world served to point out just how devoid of greenery the street now was.

The arrival of bike racks mimicking elements of the natural world served to point out the lack of nature along the street. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The arrival of bike racks mimicking elements of the natural world served to point out the lack of nature along the street. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

And while complaints did tend to highlight how garish the yellow butterflies were, the kicker, for many, was that the new racks and furniture were poorly placed and not particularly functional.

Some people didn’t know what they were or preferred relying on parking signs.

The parking sign pole is preferred by some to the butterfly rack outside Espacio 1839. Source: Espacio 1839 instagram

The parking sign pole is preferred by some to the butterfly rack outside Espacio 1839. Source: Espacio 1839 Instagram

Others (myself included) found the racks hard to use — the awkward shape of the butterfly and the shortness of the flower coupled with the roundness of its center make them both complicated to lock up against, depending on the type of bike you have, how you lock your bike (I take off my back wheel), or whether another bike is already locked to it.

The flowers, especially this one at a little sitting area at Bailey (behind Mariachi Plaza) are kind of adorable in a setting like this. But not that easy to lock up your bike to. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

The flowers, especially this one at a little sitting area at Bailey (behind Mariachi Plaza), are kind of adorable in a setting like this. But they’re not that easy to lock up your bike to. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

But the thing that made the least sense was the placement of the furniture. Read more…

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Tonight! Eagle Rock! Streetsies! Huizar! Lucero!

Tonight! We’re riding and celebrating in Eagle Rock with two of our 2014 Streetsie winners: Elected Official of the Year Jose Huizar and Journalist of the Year Nathan Lucero.

Photo: Alex Thompson

Councilmember Jose Huizar. Photo: Alex Thompson

Councilmember Jose Huizar set a Streetsie record by garnering over 5,000 votes in his race against Joe Buscaino for the 2014 Streetsie award. Heck, Huizar got more votes for his Streetsie than Molina did in the City Council election. The award is well-deserved, as Huizar’s Council District 14 is home to many of L.A.’s “firsts”: first green buffered bike lane, first parklets, first bike corral, etc…

Lucero on the left with 2011 Streetsie winner Colin Bogart in DTLA. Photo: ##https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=366446013549292&set=t.526006101&type=3&theater##Erik Al##

Lucero on the left with 2011 Streetsie winner Colin Bogart in DTLA. Photo: Erik Al

Nathan Lucero is the Northeast Los Angeles videographer who hosts the On My Bike in L.A. YouTube channel. He has been actively documenting bicycling issues, sometimes posting raw footage of important meetings, sometimes producing more polished Streetfilms-esque short documentaries.

We’ll be meeting at 5:30 at Organix, 1731 Colorado Blvd. for a quick photo shoot before the short ride to Eagle Rock City Hall where the Farmer’s Market will be hosting a brief award presentation at 2035 Colorado Boulevard. We’ll have a short presentation and people can feel free to hang out for as long as they want at the Farmer’s Market.

Unlike pretty much every nonprofit in the world, Streetsblog doesn’t use its awards as a pitch for a major fundraising event. However, if you want to make a donation to support our work or to celebrate the great work done by Huizar and Lucero you can do so here. Remember to designate your donation to Los Angeles.

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Applause for Bonin-Huizar L.A. Council Motion to Rein in LAPD Ped Stings

Brigham Yen/DTLA Rising

2013 LAPD pedestrian stings. Photos via Brigham Yen/DTLA Rising

Last Friday, May 1, Los Angeles City Council livability leaders introduced a motion [PDF] to get the city family to examine the effectiveness of LAPD’s ongoing pedestrian sting operations. We would like to think that SBLA’s recent article critiquing these stings paid off, but probably the excellent recent Los Angeles Times articles by Steve Lopez and Catherine Saillant got just a tad more exposure.

Motion 15-0546 was moved by Councilmember Mike Bonin, and seconded by Councilmember Jose Huizar. Huizar was pretty busy pressing for downtown livability last Friday, introducing five “DTLA Forward” proposals “to increase, promote and protect pedestrian access, improve traffic flow and improve neighborhood connectivity in Downtown Los Angeles.” Note that the LAPD crosswalk sting operations do extend beyond downtown into MacArthur Park and Koreatown.

SBLA does not often cover the fairly simple process of introducing motions, as there is a lot of follow-through needed before the City Council actually passes one… but we are pretty happy to have some activity on these wrongheaded stings that we have been writing critically about since 2008.

Bonin had this to say in describing the situation:

It defies common sense to ticket someone who is entering a crosswalk as the countdown begins when they still have time to cross the street safely without disrupting traffic. We need to be and we will be a Vision Zero city, and pedestrian safety is paramount. But if we are going to be doing ‘crosswalk stings,’ I want to be sure we are focusing on busting drivers who don’t yield to people in the crosswalk.

Excessive and expensive tickets disincentivize walking in Los Angeles. We want people to be safe, but we do not want ‘Do Not Walk’ to be the message we send Angelenos.

The motion critiques the outdated state law that serves as the basis for stings:  Read more…

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A Changing South Park Plans for “Livable Alleys”

Unless otherwise noted, all images are from ##http://la.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/01/Final-Report-10_21-SM-1.pdf##Green Alleys South Park Visioning Report## prepared for the South Park Business Improvement District

Unless otherwise noted, all images are from Green Alleys South Park Visioning Report prepared for the South Park Business Improvement District

Through cinematic distortion, alleys are seen as hubs where criminals engage in drug dealing, whacking, and even murder.

In reality, most city alleys are wasted, often unkempt spaces cluttered with toilets and mattresses due to illegal dumping.

Despite this reality, alley spaces offer great, unrealized potential, says the South Park Business Improvement District (BID).

As part of the BID’s focus on “bettering the physical and social environment for residents, property owners, and businesses of the area,” Executive Director Jessica Lall and Director of Planning and Communications Amanda Irvine have undertaken the task of transforming South Park’s alleys into livable green spaces as part of a larger plan to revitalize and rebrand South Park.

Bringing livable green alleys to South Park will help foster community, allow for greater recreation opportunities, reduce crime, and will offer expanded retail opportunities, Lall and Irvine claim.

Green alleys, as defined in the Green Alleys in South Park Visioning Report [PDF], are alley spaces that have been transformed and rebuilt to include “materials and features that reduce environmental impacts” and/or spaces that have undergone transformation via the addition of “plantings and landscaping.” Environmental impacts of the green livable initiative include rainwater capture and filtration and relief from the heat island effect. Read more…

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Utility Relocation Costs Not a Death Sentence for Downtown LA Circulator

A funny thing happened on the way to a downtown Los Angeles streetcar. According to the Los Angeles Times, the initial cost estimate of $125M excluded the costs of utility relocation, which could total $166M in additional costs, and $295M in operating costs over 30 years. That’s quite a bit compared to the $62.5M voters authorized when approving a community facilities district last November.

Few transit experts have met a streetcar they’ve liked. This doesn’t mean the projects aren’t justified – they can be superb economic development catalysts when complemented with smart land use strategies and targeted incentives. However, streetcars are rarely the most effective option for mobility, and any accessibility benefits are generally brought about by smart land use strategies rather than the streetcar itself. Downtown’s streetcar proposal was a significant cornerstone of the Bringing Back Broadway Initiative, a larger strategy to overhaul the downtown boulevard.

Most mobility benefits can be accomplished more cost-effectively with a bus than a streetcar.  Having researched how users, planners, and policymakers perceive transit, I’m quite aware that many people prefer rail to buses, even when buses provide an identical service.  I’m also aware that bus service avoids the environmental impacts of rail construction, which can be a significant portion of the project’s total impact, and that electric-propulsion (even using LADWP power) is far cleaner than natural gas or diesel.  As such, I’ve gained an admiration for the trolleybus as a transit mode.

A modern trolleybus in France, from Wikimedia Commons.

Read more…

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Showdown or Compromise? All’s Quiet in Advance of Tomorrow’s Hearing on the Spring Street Green Bike Lane

Tom LaBonge (white shirt) leads a ride down the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane as part of Tour LaBonge.

(An earlier version of this story featured a picture we believed showed an image from a film shot in New York that had a green bike lane removed. The location did not include a bike lane, we fell for a twitter joke. Sorry. – DN)

For awhile, it seemed as though everyone had something to say about the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane. The pilot project became a hotly debated item around town after the Film and Television Industry’s lobbying group decried the lane’s impact on local filming.

But tomorrow, the City Council will decide the fate of the green painted lane. The Council will hear, and vote on, a motion by Council Member Jose Huizar, who represents the area that the lane runs through. And after a year of non-stop chatter, Los Angeles Times editorials calling for compromise, and an ongoing debate that happened in public and private; all of a sudden nobody is talking.

Huizar’s office has delayed commenting. Council Member and Mayor-Elect Garcetti, who is partially responsible for the lane not being repainted, has refused to comment. Streetsblog didn’t reach out to Council Member Tom LaBonge, who also opposes the lanes, because he is the only person who is commenting…and commenting to anyone who will listen. He still thinks the lane should lose all its color. In fact, he’s starting to question this whole bike-lane thing in a more fundamental way.

Even advocacy and community groups are being shy. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition pointed me to their letter to the City Council. Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council President Patti Berman pointed me to an April resolution by the Neighborhood Council stating succinctly,

“NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) re-iterates is support for retaining the Green Bike Lane on Spring Street, and urges the City work with DLANC, FilmLA, and the cycling community to find a solution to any complaints whilst retaining the integrity of the Green Lane program.”

One reason for the public silence is that nobody is completely sure where Film L.A. stands anymore. Industry representatives reportedly “walked away” from the most recent “compromise” the same day the Los Angeles Times patted itself on the back for supporting it.

So, with perhaps the final showdown occurring tomorrow morning, here is a primer of what you need to know about the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane controversy.

1) The Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane was a pilot project, and ultimately a very successful one. Spring and Main were chosen for a buffered bike lane pilot program because they are streets bustling with multi-modal and pedestrian activity, and perfect candidates for more than just green highlights at designated conflict zones. Ridership alone indicates this was a successful application of this traffic control device. Collision data over time should also prove similar results.

The green bike lane has become part of the cultural fabric of Downtown Los Angeles.

Read more…

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Huizar: Bike Lanes on Colorado Will Go Forward. Fox 11 Is Shocked.

Los Angeles Local News, Weather, and Traffic

Good news out of Eagle Rock. Last night, a public meeting on a proposed bike lane for Colorado Boulevard drew out supporters and opposition, but in the end there were more cyclists in favor of the lanes than cranky people opposing them. Recognizing the riding tide, Councilman Jose Huizar announced that the lanes will be painted, to the boos of the bullying crowd.

The lanes will extend from the Glendale City Limit to Avenue 64 in Northeast Los Angeles. The new design will remove one lane of traffic for a buffered bike lane, matching the road design in Glendale. The road diet and new bike lanes will be joined by new, freshly painted and more visible, zebra (aka continental) crosswalks.

This was clearly bad news for the Fox 11 team, who had clearly already planned most of their story to be about a minority of bicycling advocates trying to ram their agenda past the protests of the decent god fearing residents of Eagle Rock. They actually used a reader survey on the Boulevard Sentinel, a paper that outright lies about supporters of the bicycle projects, as proof that Eagle Rock residents oppose bike lanes.

From the opening segment, where a reporter sadly laments that “It’s bikes versus cars, and in Eagle Rock it looks as though the bicycle will win” through the interview with known liar and Boulevard Sentinel publisher Tom Topping, the Fox 11 report is clearly incredulous that anyone would think adding bike lanes on a street that is underutilized by car traffic for the existing lanes (they don’t mention that part either, referring to Colorado Boulevard as “busy”) is a normal person. Read more…

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Eastside Access Project Breaks Ground with Bailey Street/Mariachi Plaza Improvements on First Street

Bailey WEB

In November of 2009, I took a bike ride with Carlos Morales and other members of the Eastside Bike Club, not to be confused with the Eastside Riders, and Browne Molyneux of the Bus Bench to explore the bicycle and pedestrian access to the Gold Line’s about-to-be-opened Eastside Extension.

During the ride, we ran into City Council Member Jose Huizar who was not yet a member of the Metro Board of Directors. Huizar listened to the concerns of some of the riders, and engaged with us about what kind of fixes we would like to see.

Today, the first round of those are much closer to reality. Earlier today, Huizar  the Department of Public Works and Metro joined with community members Tuesday for a groundbreaking ceremony in Boyle Heights for the first part of the Eastside Access project. This project would turn Bailey Street into an extension of the Mariachi Plaza station, creating a pedestrian connection from the plaza to Pennsylvania Avenue and Bailey Street.

“Since the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension route opened in 2009, our goal all along was to enhance and transform the areas around the light-rail stations to improve pedestrian and bicycle access and traffic, as well as support business, community and art-related projects,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “The Garden Street on Bailey Project is an important part of a multi-million dollar, multi-agency commitment to do just that.”

The Eastside Access project is a $12 million pedestrian improvement project in and around four stations of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension along First Street. A graphic showing all of the remaining projects can be found at the bottom of this story.

 On Bailey Street, the city will construct a series of small improvements along the one block between Mariachi Plaza and Bailey Street. These improvements include: Read more…

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Parklet Party in Downtown Los Angeles


There were lots of cameras, but only one outlet broadcasted the parklet opening live.

It felt like a political rally.

“Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow” was blaring from the speakers. One speaker at the microphone, LADOT Pedestrian Coordinator Valerie Watson, proclaimed, “It’s the dawn of a new day!” from the podium. Roughly 100 people gathered in a circle, hooting and hollering at the applause lines (“Let’s hear it for UCLA!”) .

But, despite the presence of Jose Huizar, one of the Council Members that represents Downtown Los Angeles, it wasn’t a political rally. It’s was the opening ceremony for the second and third parklets in the City of Los Angeles. Parklets are extensions of the sidewalk, usually into what was a car parking area, that provide seating and recreational public space to encourage increased pedestrian use and community interaction.

This morning in front of LA Cafe, at 639 Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles, the Spring Street Parklets were officially open for business. These parklets join the Highland Park parklet as the only ones of their kind in city limits. On February 16th, the third Parklet will open in El Sereno. All four parklets are inside Huizar’s Council District 14.

While L.A. is not the first city to turn parking space into open space, the city has tried to do something different and unique with their parklets. In Highland Park, the parklet is not attached to an eatery, but is more of a communal open space that just happens to be located in what used to be a parking spot. On Spring Street, the theme is exercise. In addition to chairs, benches, and tables, both parklets have a pair of exercise bicycles. The one in front of LA Cafe also has a foosball table, although nobody pointed to that as an example of exercise equipment.

“More and more, Downtown Los Angeles is becoming an increasingly vibrant and dynamic place to live, work, shop and entertain,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “The Spring Street parklets will add to Downtown’s unique urban atmosphere, encouraging and supporting a pedestrian-friendly, local experience…we are creating a model that can be used throughout the city.”

In fact, the story of all four of L.A.’s parklets started at the community level. When Living Streets L.A. and Huizar’s office teamed to create community created projects in El Sereno and Highland Park, both communities selected parklets. At the same time, the Downtown Neighborhood Council, pushed by Watson and President Patti Berman were pushing a separate program to bring parklets to the Downtown.

“It all kind of worked out,” Huizar said of the timing of the two programs.

Read more…

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A Transportation Look at a Contentious Race in CD14

Martinez placed this billboard late last year, right in the heart of Broadway. Photo:Blog Downtown

The race for the CD14 City Council seat has been a contentious one between two former friends.  The City Maven breaks down the relationship between the former friends that has led to a very personal campaign.

Huizar at the Boyle Heights Hotel Renovation Project. Photo: Jose Huizar/Flickr

We’re not going to talk about that.  Incumbent Councilman Jose Huizar has a pretty long record on transportation issues and his opponent, Rudy Martinez, is known for a grassroots campaigning style and a starring role in a real-estate reality show.

Huizar has been a reliable voice for progressive transportation, but slow to come up with any exciting plans on his own.  Huizar, as Joe Linton wrote earlier this year, may have “proclaimed his support for Los Angeles overtaking Long Beach’s leadership in becoming a truly bike-friendly city,” but I’m hard pressed to figure out what initiatives of his would make that happen.

His signature transportation issue has been support for “Bringing Broadway Back” planning, including the installation of a Streetcar.  Earlier this month, the Councilman wrote on his personal blog the results of a study on the economic impact of the streetcar proposal (emphasis his):

The study finds among other things that an initial $125 million public-private investment in returning the Streetcar Downtown will generate 9,300 new jobs, $1.1 billion in new development, $24.5 million in new annual tourism and consumer spending, and $47 million in new city revenue – all above projections for Downtown’s future without a streetcar.

Read more…