“What do we want? Safe streets! When do we want them? NOW!”
So went the chants as approximately 40 members of the South Central community headed north toward City Councilmember Curren Price’s constituent center on Central Avenue yesterday evening.
They were headed there to speak with the group of stakeholders that recently got the green light to initiate a ballot process for the formation of a Business Improvement District (BID). The marchers were eager to register their concerns regarding the councilmember’s effort to have the Central Ave. bike lane excluded from Great Streets’ plans for the section of Central between Vernon and Adams and removed altogether from the larger Mobility Plan 2035, which envisions a protected bike lane running the 7.2 miles from Watts to Little Tokyo.
Addressing the meeting attendees, Malcolm Harris, Director of Programs and Organizing at TRUST South L.A., gestured toward the crowd that had piled into the conference room and said, “Our constituents here want to have safer streets…[and] we want there to be engagement around this issue before any [city council] motion is taken out.”
Organizers of the BID received the testimony but reiterated that, as they were still in the process of formation, they had very little power to do anything other than listen to the community’s concerns and ensure they were incorporated into efforts to build consensus around the future form of Central Avenue.
Given residents’ frustration that so much of the planning for the street had already happened behind doors that even the prospective BID members had been shut out of, it wasn’t the cathartic moment they were hoping for. But news that next month’s meeting would entail more hands-on engagement with the design of Great Streets project slated for the street (below), many resolved to come back and participate.
Then, just as suddenly as they had arrived, the marchers headed back out into the streets to hold a press conference at the intersection of Vernon and Central.
Those that took the megaphone to speak on the corner of Vernon and Central had ties to South L.A. advocacy organizations TRUST South L.A, Community Health Councils, and Ride On! bike co-op, but all were residents in the area and regular users of the street. And, for most, a bicycle was their primary form of transportation. Read more…