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Posts from the Eric Garcetti Category

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Garcetti Sustainability ‘pLAn’ One Year Update Shows Environmental Progress

Mayor Garcetti recently released the first year report card on accomplishing his environmental goals outlined in his Sustainable City pLAn [PDF]

Mayor Garcetti recently released the first year report card [PDF] on accomplishing environmental goals outlined in his Sustainable City pLAn [PDF]

For last week’s Earth Day 2016, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti presented a one-year update on his April 2015 Sustainable City pLAn.

The mayor’s ambitious “pLAn” [PDF] serves as a mechanism to keep the city committed to and on track towards various sustainability goals: reducing vehicle miles traveled, reducing traffic fatalities, increasing walk/bike/transit mode share, fostering transit-oriented development, etc. Each policy is accompanied by a specific quantifiable deliverable, including “reduce daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 5 percent by 2025.”

Like pLAn, the mayor’s new report “pLAn First Annual Report 2015-2016” [PDF] is handsomely designed and far-ranging. And there is a lot to like in this first annual report, though some of it still feels more like the setting of the table than having great programs up and running.

Overall, as one might expect, Garcetti showcases a lot of city progress – “early wins” – on environmental goals. Some “accomplishments” are portrayed as completed when they are actually coming soon. Many of these projects, like Expo Line phase 2, are essentially complete. Other projects and programs are still at very early stages, such as the successful securing of grant funding. A few projects, listed as “Partner Wins,” are located outside the city of L.A. Projects like the Gold Line Foothill Extension are not within the direct purview of L.A.’s Mayor, but they positively impact the environment and quality of life for Angelenos.

Readers, what do you think of Garcetti’s environmental record? Are his goals the right ones? Is he doing enough to meet them? Where would you like to see more progress?

After the jump are a sampling of year-one accomplishments under the headings from the original pLAn. Most pertinent to SBLA issues are Chapter 7 – Mobility and Transit, and Chapter 13 – Livable Neighborhoods.

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Garcetti, LADOT and Xerox Announce New GoLA Multi-Modal App

Mayor Garcetti announcing the GoLA app this morning. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Mayor Garcetti announcing the GoLA app this morning. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Los Angeles has a new transportation app that helps Angelenos choose ways to get around. The GoLA “Mobility Marketplace” App shows various transportation modes, including bicycling, transit, taxi, ride-hailing, driving, and parking and allows users to compare modes to see what is fastest, cheapest, or greenest. The app is a collaboration between Xerox and the city of Los Angeles, shepherded by the Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Chief Innovation Technology Officer, Peter Marx.

Mayor Garcetti demonstrated the new app this morning at a press event in the city’s Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control (ATSAC) bunker, four floors below City Hall East. City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield described the app as a “magic blender” combining transit schedules, Thomas Guide maps, traffic, and more.

 

Xerox Senior Vice President David Cummins stated that the app includes a broader spread of multimodal options than typical transportation apps, such as Google Maps. Cummins expressed enthusiasm about future features planned, including not just viewing multi-modal trips, but booking and paying for them via GoLA. Cummins also announced anticipated future features including gamification, “comparing your carbon footprint with your Facebook friends,” and possible Vision Zero features.

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South L.A. Town Hall Ends in Protests but Residents Hope Dialogue with Mayor Is Just Beginning

Mayor Eric Garcetti tried to pacify activists by discussing his efforts to humanize policing just before the South L.A. Town Hall was finally shut down. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Mayor Eric Garcetti tried to pacify activists by discussing his efforts to humanize policing just before the South L.A. Town Hall was finally shut down. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Really? A helicopter?? I sighed as I heard the aircraft swoop in low and fast outside Holman United Methodist Church Monday night as Mayor Eric Garcetti’s first ever South L.A. Town Hall came to a rather unceremonious close.

It was a little after 8 p.m., and pleas from an exasperated Reverend Kelvin Sauls that those “interested in having a civil conversation…remain here” while the rest left in peace had fallen on deaf ears. When members of the Black Lives Matter movement — who, throughout the meeting, had turned their backs on Garcetti and his staff when they spoke, interrupted speakers, broken into chants of “Black Lives, they matter here!,” and ascended to the stage to take the mic — began shouting Garcetti down in earnest, dialogue was finally rendered impossible.

The next thing we knew, the mayor was being whisked off the stage and out the door, buffered on all sides by city staffers and police. The meeting was effectively over. Adams Blvd. between 5th and Arlington was quickly shut down as protesters surged outside to surround the mayor’s car and the aforementioned helicopter arrived shortly thereafter.

Exchanging glances with some of the South L.A. friends and community advocates in attendance, it appeared we had some of the same questions on our minds:

What were we supposed to make of what just happened? And, just how hysterical was the coverage of the meeting going to be the next day?

As for the latter: pretty hysterical.

Right wingers from Breitbart.com and The Blaze (neither of which was present at the event), wrote of the mayor being “forced to flee” the event and needing to be “escorted to safety,” giving their following the ammunition needed to declare the protesters to be (in some of the more G-rated comments, at least) jobless “thugs,” “racists,” and “terrorists.”

Local coverage of the event wasn’t a whole lot better, focusing on the “chaos,” the meeting as a “hotbed of civil disobedience,” the “aggression” of speakers, and the actions of activist Jasmine Richards, who jumped on Garcetti’s car, prompting viewers and readers to post many of the same kinds of ugly denouncements found on the right wing websites. Weirdest of all was seeing a Fox11 reporter, who had not been at the meeting the night before and who had absolutely no idea what was behind the protests he claimed had “nearly ambushed” the mayor, stand outside a city administration building the next morning and wonder on air why no protesters had shown up to heckle the mayor as he met with HUD secretary Julian Castro about homelessness.

None of which is surprising, of course, but is disheartening all the same.

As for the former query — what were we supposed to make of what just happened? — the answer was much more complicated.

These were South L.A. residents and advocates. There was nobody I spoke with that did not understand where the anger was coming from. While the core group of protesters may have been small (anywhere between 20 and 50 people), their concerns had the empathy of many in attendance. At least, up to a point.

When Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan African Studies at Cal State L.A. and organizer for Black Lives Matter, had taken the mic toward the end of the meeting and explained why people were turning their backs on the man she called the “back door mayor,” there were nods and murmurs of understanding.

Black Lives Matter had consistently asked the mayor to sit down with them in quarterly town halls to work with them on addressing police brutality, police reform, and community empowerment. Over the summer (just prior to the Police Commission’s ruling on the fatal police shooting of Ezell Ford), they had even staked out Garcetti’s home trying to get him to agree to a meeting, only to have him sneak out his back door on his way back East to do some fundraising. Abdullah told town hall attendees that because all their requests had been ignored — they had not even been formally invited to the event, despite having been the ones that had asked for it — they were resolved not to sit down until they were given seats on the stage (which they eventually did with the help of transportation advocate Damien Goodmon).

“We are appreciative of this space,” she said, “but [Black Lives Matter] created this space.”

It was a claim many of the elders in the community might have disputed. Some I spoke with after the meeting were shaking their heads over the fact that they found themselves confronting so many of the very same issues they had gone up against as activists in their youth, that young men were still dying at the hands of police and there was still no accountability. And Reverend Sauls, an important advocate for the South L.A. community on a wide range of issues since his arrival at Holman in 2012, had been the one to moderate a meeting between the Black Lives Matter advocates and the mayor at Holman this past July.

But her larger point stood: they were being excluded from a process that they felt they had helped set in motion. And hearing the mayor talk about the importance of respectful dialogue and communication was only adding insult to injury. Read more…

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Equity, the Mobility Plan, and the Myth of Luxury-Loving Lane Stealers

A man waits for a bus in the shade of a telephone pole on Figueroa Ave., just north of 85th St. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A man waits for a bus in the shade of a telephone pole on Figueroa Ave., just north of 85th St. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

It’s hard to take some of the hysteria surrounding the City Council’s approval of Mobility Plan 2035 this past August very seriously.

And by “hysteria,” I mean the lawsuit and most recent claims by Fix the City president James O’Sullivan, who told MyNewsLA that the city “want[s] to make driving our cars unbearable by stealing traffic lanes from us on major streets and giving those stolen lanes to bike riders and buses,” and that, worse still, “…not all of us — in fact, very few of us — have the luxury of being able to ride to work on a bike or bus.”

Oh, yes. All those transit-dependent people luxuriating on bikes and buses, stealing your lanes. How very selfish they are, indeed.

I’m sure that at this very moment, those very transit users are rubbing their hands together in collective selfish glee as they stand, sweating through their work and school clothes in 90-degree heat at a filthy sun-drenched bus stop while waiting for a bus that is late because it is stuck behind car traffic. In fact, they are probably high-fiving the sweaty cyclists riding past them on the sidewalk as we speak.

Some people are just so selfish.

Shameless luxuriating at S. Flower St., just south of Adams. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Shameless luxuriating at a S. Flower St. bus stop, just south of Adams. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

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The crux of most arguments against the Mobility Plan generally lies in the notion that the needs of the many (beleaguered drivers) are being subjected to the whims of the few (mostly arrogant/entitled hipsters) — a claim supported by census data suggesting that only 1% of folks in Los Angeles County ride bikes to work and just 11% use transit.

Which, I’ll admit, can sound pretty damning.

At least on the surface. (And as long as you don’t consider the possibility of people switching over to transit or cycling as more and better infrastructure for both goes in as part of the Mobility Plan [PDF]. But I digress.)

When you think about what those numbers mean on the ground, you have a completely different story on your hands. One that suggests that those doing the complaining are (inadvertently, I hope) advocating for the holding of lower-income Angelenos hostage to the very traffic conditions that they themselves find so abhorrent and destructive. Conditions that will continue to present challenges to lower-income residents who desperately want their neighborhoods and the children they raise there to grow and thrive and be healthy. And conditions that the complainants themselves had the means to escape.

Pshaw! Thou art a luxury-loving lane-stealer, you might be thinking to yourself.

Just bear with me.

And let’s take the case of Central Avenue in South Los Angeles — a street slated for a protected bike lane and road diet, per the Mobility Plan — and see why a different approach to mobility matters. Read more…

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Lawsuits and Leadership: Where Is Mayor Garcetti On L.A. Mobility?

Can we get some clear leadership on L.A. safer, multi-modal future? Mayor Garcetti at last month's Vision Zero announcement. Photo: Joe Linton

Can we get some clear leadership on L.A. safer, multi-modal future? Mayor Garcetti at last month’s Vision Zero announcement. Photo: Joe Linton

Yesterday, the Orwellian-sounding Fix the City officially announced their lawsuit against the recently approved city of Los Angeles Mobility Plan 2035. The plan, unpopular with those that value car travel time over public safety, is controversial because of provisions that would, in some cases, remove mixed-use travel lanes (car lanes) or car parking to add bus, walk, and bicycle infrastructure, including traffic calming.

Fix the City’s lawsuit [PDF] claims that the plan is illegal under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because removing car lanes will increase car congestion and thus increase vehicle emissions. The lawsuit cherry-picks data from the plan’s car-centric environmental studies to make this claim. It cynically takes worst-case-scenario projections and presents them as fact.

In a particularly bald statement, published at MyNewsLA, Fix the City representatives claim that bicyclists are stealing lanes from drivers.

Fix the City Vice President James O’Sullivan said the city acted as a “social engineer” when approving the mobility plan.

“They want to make driving our cars unbearable by stealing traffic lanes from us on major streets and giving those stolen lanes to bike riders and buses,” O’Sullivan said.

“Don’t get me wrong — I love bike riders and buses,” he said. “But not all of us — in fact, very few of us — have the luxury of being able to ride to work on a bike or bus. We rely on our cars. If there were meaningful options to car travel that would be another matter. But there aren’t.”

Never mind that continuing nearly a century of wholesale investment in car infrastructure would also be “social engineering.”

What’s sad is just how put-out these 100 percent “rely on our cars” drivers tend to be. Why are they not grateful that they have been catered to for so long, and that Mobility Plan 2035 continues to favor expansion of car facilities, too, on its Vehicle Enhanced Network and plenty of widened streets?

While the lawsuit might sound somewhat like a parody, the funding behind it come from long-time foes of increasing the city’s transportation options from the Westside and people who successfully fought the Hollywood Plan.

These are well-heeled culture warriors, and they clearly don’t back down from a fight.

While the city prepares to defend its progressive mobility plan, it is also preparing a legal defense against a lawsuit challenging its retrograde redesign of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. For those just joining us, community members filed a lawsuit against the bridge redesign because the new bridge would not have sidewalks needed to make the bridge accessible to all road users.

And this is where the city finds itself, in large part because it can’t seem to make up its mind about what kind of city it wants to be.

On one hand, you have Mayor Eric Garcetti and LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds out in the sun declaring a plan to reduce transportation related deaths to zero by 2025.

On the other, you have the Bureau of Engineering, with the support of Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and Former Councilmember Tom LaBonge, arguing that a road diet on the bridge is untenable because of the possible unproven impacts it might have on car congestion, despite the safety concerns of the approved design. You have a trio of Councilmembers working to gut the Great Streets Initiative in their districts by taking road diets and bike lanes off the table, and even trying to get them removed from the Mobility Plan.

The filing of the lawsuit by Fix the City appears to be bad news for Angelenos interested in seeing Los Angeles become a safer, more equitable, more livable place – with more robust transportation options and safer streets.

However, it doesn’t need to be.

Instead, it could be a wake-up-call to Mayor Garcetti. Read more…

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First Round of Great Streets Improvements Continue on Cesar Chavez; City Says Community Engagement on Horizon

The intersections slated for improvements are St. Louis, Chicago (south), Breed, Soto (in limited fashion), Mathews (just the crosswalks), and Fickett (south). Click to enlarge. Source: Great Streets

The intersections slated for the first round of improvements along Cesar Chavez include St. Louis, Chicago (south), Breed, Soto (in limited fashion), Mathews (just the crosswalks), and Fickett (south). Click to enlarge. Source: Great Streets

Tracking the Great Streets program as it has begun to unfold around town has, at times, been a bit of an exercise in frustration. Which never fails to strike me as odd, given Mayor Eric Garcetti’s declaration that the transformation of the 15 chosen streets into gathering places would happen via a “bottom-up and community-based process” in which the city “[worked] with neighborhood stakeholders to develop a vision for each corridor.”

But the incredibly robust public engagement process seen in Mar Vista — one in which the district’s very enthusiastic City Councilmember Mike Bonin used the plans as an opportunity to engage his constituents about how Venice Blvd. could be re-imagined, the neighborhood council created a Great Streets ad hoc committee, and community members were asked their opinion on a variety of potential improvements — has yet to be replicated elsewhere. [See the kinds of options offered to Mar Vista residents on everything from bikeways to crosswalks to bus amenities to street furniture to events/programming, below.]

Instead, the experience in other districts has been decidedly more uneven.

Along Central Avenue (South L.A.), there was practically no outreach early on; when outreach did finally get underway, it was to let folks know what had already been decided upon for their street, not to solicit their ideas on the options for how to transform the area.

The selection of N. Figueroa (Highland Park) as a Great Street seemed to give Councilmember Gil Cedillo the opening he was looking for to re-route the bike lane planned for the corridor, regardless of what some in the community wanted (and possibly inspiring Councilmember Curren Price to do the same for the bike lane planned for Central Ave.)

And along Cesar Chavez Ave. in Boyle Heights, curb extensions were first striped at St. Louis in early June — well before the neighborhood council was approached about what was happening in their neighborhood.

The wider community was also only introduced to the plans during a few outreach sessions — one on the corner where installation of the bulb-outs had already begun in late June and at a couple of open houses held in mid-August, long after installation was complete and work was already underway at another intersection on the street.

A planter, some paint, and plastic bollards create curb extensions at Cesar Chavez and St. Louis. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A planter, some paint, and plastic bollards create curb extensions at Cesar Chavez and St. Louis. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

When asked about the discrepancy in the processes, the mayor’s office responded via email that, “The work on Cesar Chavez was focused on pedestrian safety improvements and was accomplished through a partnership between LADOT [the L.A. Department of Transportation], Councilmember Huizar, and the Great Streets Studio. These kinds of basic improvements, similar to filling a pothole or fixing a sidewalk, may be made on a Great Street segment separately from the visioning process with the community.” Read more…

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Garcetti Signs Vision Zero Directive to End L.A. Traffic Deaths by 2025

Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Tamika Butler speaks on Los Angeles' new Vision Zero policy at today's signing ceremony in Boyle Heights. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Tamika Butler speaks on Los Angeles’ new Vision Zero policy at today’s signing ceremony in Boyle Heights. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Today, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a directive [PDF] that commits city departments to Vision Zero. Specifically, the City of Los Angeles is committed to reducing traffic fatalities to zero by the year 2025.

A little over a year ago, it was difficult to find Los Angeles agency staff, elected officials, or even individuals who were conversant on Vision Zero. In case readers are unfamiliar with Vision Zero, here is a description from the newly-formed Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance:

Vision Zero is a worldwide movement, started in Sweden, to eliminate all traffic deaths. While traditional traffic safety campaigns have focused on changing human behavior to reduce accident risks, Vision Zero takes a fundamentally different approach by instead putting the responsibility on government to manage the streets using evidence-based strategies to prevent fatalities and serious injuries. Vision Zero is data-driven, outcome-focused, and collaborative across agencies and departments.

Today’s directive follows on the heels of, and broadens, other recent L.A. City Vision Zero declarations. Last September, the Department of Transportation (LADOT) adopted Vision Zero as part of its departmental strategic plan. In April, Garcetti released an ambitious Sustainability “pLAn” that included Vision Zero. Earlier this month, the L.A. City Council approved Mobility Plan 2035; that approval made Vision Zero the adopted citywide policy for Los Angeles.

Prior to today, Vision Zero was largely confined to LADOT and City Planning (DCP). With this new directive, Garcetti broadens the city agencies responsible for implementing Vision Zero. In addition to LADOT and DCP, Garcetti explicitly names the Police, Fire, Public Works, and Water & Power departments to participate in an internal city of L.A. Vision Zero Steering Committee. In addition, the city will host a broader Vision Zero Task Force, to include city representatives, plus L.A. Unified School District, L.A. County Department of Public Health, Metro, non-profit advocates, and others.  Read more…

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Garcetti Livable Streets Report Card Open Thread

Last week the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial evaluating Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at two years into his initial term of office. The article includes a report card, with various letter grades, including Leadership: C-, Vision: B+, and an overall grade of C.

The Times’ report card does not focus on livability and transportation, but mentions them only in passing. Early on, the article states “[Garcetti’s] vision of Los Angeles as a more livable, transit-oriented, environmentally- and technologically-friendly city” and then barely mentions transportation and livability. The Times only touches on a lack of funding for resurfacing streets and fixing sidewalks, and credits Garcetti for negotiating the under-construction Metro Crenshaw Line connection to LAX.

Readers - how would you grade L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Livable Streets issues? Photo: Roger Rudick

Readers – how would you grade L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Livable Streets issues? Photo: Roger Rudick

So, we figured we’d do our own livable streets report card.

And, frankly, the Streetsblog Los Angeles team is a bit split on Mayor Garcetti’s record.

We’re enthusiastic about his appointing Seleta Reynolds as the Transportation Department (LADOT) General Manager, and leading the team to bring Phil Washington to Metro. His Great Streets initiative is mostly underwhelming, yet, but has resulted in L.A.’s excellent first ever parking-protected bike lanes on Reseda Boulevard, and more coming very soon on Venice Blvd. Garcetti has laid the groundwork for some great things to come, including bike-share and Metro’s LAX connection. Garcetti has continued and expanded important work underway on Mobility Plan 2035, MyFigueroa, People St, CicLAvias, L.A. River revitalization, and continued expansion of Metro rail. Lastly, Garcetti can be credited with some pretty visionary documents, including LADOT’s Strategic Plan, pLAn, and inclusion of Vision Zero in Mobility Plan 2035, but those are not worth much unless they are implemented.

But then there are disappointments, too.

We’re frustrated that during Garcetti’s term, a lot of wrong-headed projects haven’t been curbed. The fault for these may be blamed on recalcitrant city councilmembers, but there’s no indication that Garcetti has taken the initiative to wield his significant power on these. Here are city projects that have gone the wrong way under Garcetti: the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge, the North Figueroa Street road diet, Westwood Blvd bike lanes, and central L.A. pedestrian stings. Transit fares are up, ridership down. Bikeway implementation has slowed; of 40 miles of “Year Two” arterial projects studied and worked on, zero miles have been implemented. Meager sidewalk repair budgets went unspent. It took a lawsuit to force the city to really grapple with, um, planning to repair more sidewalks, someday, somehow.

Here’s our basic report card:  Read more…

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Great Streets, Tactical Urbanism, and the Challenge of Flipping the Traditional Planning Process on its Head

A guitar sculpture at Vernon and Central Avenues nods to Central's important place in history, both in music and in race relations. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

A guitar sculpture at Vernon and Central Avenues nods to Central’s important place in history, both in music and in race relations. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

When, in mid-May, the Mayor’s Office put out a call for proposals offering up to $20,000 in Great Streets Challenge Grants for applicants seeking to foster community via imaginative uses of public space, I’ll admit my heart sank.

Not because I have anything against imaginative uses of public space or money for community improvements.

But, with the due date for those proposals set for the end of last month (and winners to be announced next week), I did wonder if the Great Streets program was getting a wee bit ahead of itself.

At least in some parts of town.

Scroll through the Great Streets challenge grant application manual or listen to the recorded webinar on the application process, and you’ll see that the goals of “creat[ing] a program that empowers communities to propose innovative and creative projects for their own streets,” “finding a way to connect community leaders with funding and support for projects…,” and piloting “a participatory planning process that will offer new opportunities [between stakeholders and innovators] for collaboration early on in a project development process” are all front and center.

In essence, via Great Streets and the grant program, the city is testing the waters on institutionalizing tactical urbanism.

Inspired by unsanctioned, bottom-up, do-it-yourself interventions used by some communities to reclaim public space, tactical urbanism has been embraced by planners as a way to “flip the traditional planning process on its head” and engage communities by helping them visualize how interventions could reshape urban spaces. Plazas, parklets, and other low-risk temporary projects, the argument goes, offer residents the opportunity to experience their communities in new ways. They also offer civic leaders the tools with which to approach “neighborhood building and activation using short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions and policies” that are potentially more inclusive, less intimidating, and better at facilitating discussions around the future of a neighborhood than more formal open houses and forums. Should residents’ experiences with a project prove positive, many feel, it can fuel momentum for more permanent efforts to transform the space that build on those interventions. Should the projects fail, they can be ripped out without much consequence and planners can return to the drawing board with lessons learned already in hand.

In this vein, it was reiterated several times in the challenge grants webinar, the funding is intended to offer communities the opportunity to test out some of those projects on the designated Great Streets, assess their viability, gather data on community buy-in, and make it easier for the city go after funding to make those projects (and/or their outgrowths) permanent down the line.

Even L.A. Department of Transportation head Seleta Reynolds recently touted the grant program, writing for Crosscut that it “cements the city’s faith in the community to drive its destiny” and can “leverage untapped resources in communities: the expertise of those who live, work, and play in them.”

Except that Great Streets has yet to meaningfully engage many of the very communities it has sited for transformation about the grant program or any plans for the future of their streets.

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Read more…

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Public Works Board Approves Sidewalk Deficient Glendale-Hyperion Bridge

Members of the Glendale Hyperion Bridge Community Advisory Committee, city staff, and elected officials walk the bridge during their final meeting on August 7. Photo: Don Ward

Public Works to Glendale-Hyperion Bridge pedestrians: drop dead.  Bridge committee, city staff, and officials walking there in 2014. Photo: Don Ward

In a hearing at City Hall this morning, the mayor-appointed Board of Public Works unanimously approved proceeding with the city Bureau of Engineering’s (BOE) recommendation to eliminate one of two sidewalks on its Glendale-Hyperion Bridge retrofit project. The latest version, announced earlier this week, has not changed significantly since 2013 when BOE pushed a similar unsafe design, leading to a backlash, and the formation of an advisory committee to re-think the dangerous design.

Despite both traffic studies and the advisory committee favoring full safe sidewalks, Los Angeles City staff have continued to recommend a design that keeps the bridge unsafe for drivers and fails to accommodate pedestrian traffic.

Councilmember Tom LaBonge attended the hearing to dig his heels in against elimination of a single car lane. Ironically, he also pressed for automated enforcement cameras to be added to the bridge to solve speeding problems.

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell was considered to be more open to a less car-centric design, but today his staff stated that the council office had “heard loud and clear” that their constituents don’t want fewer car lanes and further that the road diet Option 3, the option that had sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, “had never been a viable option.”

More than 40 stakeholders showed up to testify in favor of full sidewalks on the bridge. Nonetheless, the BOE, using discredited Level of Service (LOS) metrics and different traffic studies than what had been shared with the project advisory committee, held sway saying that fewer car lanes would trigger a full environmental review. BOE recommended that the current four car lanes would need to remain in place in order for the city to skirt full environmental review by just approving its current Mitgated Negative Declaration (MND). Read more…