Holmby-Westwood Furious at Jack Weiss’ Plan to Remove Traffic Calming

4_7_09_palazzo.jpgPhoto of Palazzo by Matthew Correia via LA Urban Design Studio

Westwood residents are furious with Councilman Jack Weiss and the LADOT over a resolution appearing on tomorrow’s City Council Transportation Committee Agenda which would strip traffic calming off of local streets that were placed in February of 2008 as a "pilot program."  The Holmby-Westwood Traffic Committee had asked for certain traffic calming measures to protect their local streets from traffic created by the Palazzo mixed use development which features a Trader Joes and other retail in addition to residential.

In addition to removing the existing traffic calming, the measure in front of the city would also alleviate Caden, Palazzo’s developer, from having to build further traffic reduction measures in disregard of an agreement between the city, Casden and the neighborhood homeowner’s association.  By alleviating Caden’s responsibilities, the developer could save a quarter of a million dollars.  So if someone ever asks you rhetorically what the value of keeping children safe on the streets is, now you know.  It’s a quarter of a million dollars.

As part of the deal, the city installed traffic calming throughout the community including a restriction prohibiting eastbound and westbound straight through traffic on Le Conte Avenue across Hilgard Avenue, arestriction prohibiting eastbound and westbound straight through traffic on Weyburn Avenue across Hilgard Avenue a restriction prohibiting southbound to eastbound left-turns from Hilgard Avenue to Lindbrook Drive and a median island and a sidewalk bump-out on Lindbrook Drive at Hilgard Avenue.

While the traffic calming has been an unparalleled success,  the Holmby-Westwood Traffic Committee claims the measures reduced traffic by 124.3% according to the LADOT’s own traffic data.  Yet, for the traffic calming to be permanent, it needed two-thirds support of the community.  Yet, when the LADOT did a mail survey of the target area, just over sixty percent asked that the traffic calming remain on the street.  Thus, the city’s transportation planners are working with Councilman Jack Weiss to remove traffic calming from the streets.  Their plan has already been approved by the City’s Transportation Commission.

Not so fast cry the residents.  The LADOT’s area polled seems designed to make certain the poll wouldn’t meet the two-thirds required.  Instead of the area bound by the original agreement with Palazzo, the survey stretched farther east into communities that don’t see the benefits of traffic calming.  If the LADOT had restricted their survey to the immediate community, it received the support of three-quarters of the community.

In a letter to the Transportation Commission, the Homeowner’s spell out their complaints with the LADOT’s survey noting that people were unaware that supporting the traffic calming was "all or nothing" and that over ninety three percent of all respondents favored some form of traffic calming for the area.

The public outreach about the proposal to take away the traffic calming was, as is often the case when it comes to a proposal to speed up and increase traffic flow at the expense of safe local streets, abysmal.  The community didn’t receive notice of the plan or its hearing in front of the CTC until three days before the first hearing, which was conveniently held hours before a Jewish holiday.

However, the hearing also provides an opportunity for the City Council.  Do they support the LADOT and Jack Weiss’ plan to rip working traffic calming out of the ground, or do they look out for the best interestes of the community.  If they truly are legally required to remove the traffic calming, will they require a new transportation plan to protect the local neighborhood from the traffic created by large developments.  Their actions will send a clear signal to other communities as to what they can expect in the citycontinues to grow.

  • Dude – WTF?! How can this happen in the Mayor’s “Green LA”? What a crock. Who do we call/write letters to to stop the insanity?

  • From the motion before the Tansportaiton Committee:

    “DOT’s policy for determining whether traffic restrictions should be implemented includes a consideration for whether there is super-majority community support for such restrictions. Hence, at the request of DOT, the City Clerk’s Office mailed out opinion survey forms and related information to every residence within a designated affected area, asking if the occupants supported the proposed NTM Plan. Based upon the responses returned to the City Clerk, DOT has determined the implementation of permanent restrictions did not meet DOT established thresholds for community support.”

    I’d say “straight from the horse’s mouth”, but this looks like it came from the other end.

    The DOT determines what “the community” is, and when their “community” doesn’t respond with 67% in favor of slowing down cars they want cars to flow at maximum speeds in a residential area.

    The DOT’s policy is based on NOTHING – there is nothing behind it other than “DOT policy”. F&*k DOT policy. What is wrong with the mayor? Didn’t he lobby hard with wealthy jews in L.A. to get his job? Doesn’t he owe these folks calmer streets and a healthier climate for business? This department acts like its own little caliphate, and the people who pay for its existence are serfs who need to get back to threshing wheat for its coffers.

  • Props to whoever put this together:

    Man, is Jack Wiess the handmaiden of the developers of this project or something? Do they have pictures of him making out with a donkey? Why would he so directly try and screw his own constituents. Pre-interwebnets era, he might have gotten away with it – but having access to these documents show that this move on his part is ridiculous.

  • Traffic calming is a load of crock anyway. All it does is shuffle cars from one street to another without changing the underlying traffic pattern. Just look at the traffic calming project at Cheviot Hill – instead of reducing traffic, all it accomplished is increased gridlock at Pico/Motor and National/Motor. The statistic shows that the number of vehicle trips through Cheviot Hill didn’t change very much. And my personal experience is that the amount of time one spends on Motor on the way to I-10 has increased dramatically. So basically, traffic calming didn’t solve the traffic problem, it just made one’s transit time through the neighborhood much longer. It’s thick with irony.

  • Mill

    Ummm, how do you reduce traffic by 124.3%?

  • bzcat – traffic calming is a load of crap? WTF?

    Your anecdotal evidence is weak.

  • Additonally, bzcat, traffic calming is supposed to make things worse for cars. It is supposed to slow them down and discourage their use. Are you even awake when you type?

  • KateNonymous

    @ubrayj02, when has Jack Weiss NOT been the handmaiden of developers? I’m not sure he knows he has other constituents.

  • I guess I see you point KateNonymous, but this is so incredibly blatant … I mean, wow, he is just doing the exact opposite of what a large group of his own constituents want. I bet he’s the one who had the DOT screw around with their implementation of the Neighborhood Protection Plan.

  • Phred

    This is payback time for Jack Weiss. Payback to his donors, the developers from whom he needs more money for his current campaign, and payback to his constituents who despise him because of the many other times he has “had his way” with them. And he needs to get this done soon, because in a couple of months he will be out of the City council and will no longer have the power to do it. That’s why all his pet projects are being fast-tracked: Museum of Tolerance Party Center, Pico/Olympic branch of the 10 Freeway, the routing of the Subway to the Sea, you name it.

  • Hasn’t Weiss done enough damage? I hope people remember things like this when they vote for city attorney — and when they vote for Jack’s replacement on the council, which can’t come soon enough.

  • Umberto – yes I was awake when I typed that traffic calming is a load of crock. You can’t discourage someone from using the road if that is the most logical access. All it accomplish is more gridlock and shift traffic to neighboring streets. I understand Streetblog is very anti-car so the idea that you can’t change traffic pattern by building curb cutouts and signal timing is not a popular opinion here. I’m a big believer in transit and better planning so I found myself in an odd position of arguing against traffic calming in LA. But that is because the way traffic calming is implemented in LA is counter productive. You can just rope off a neighborhood (like the city did with Holmby and Cheviot Hill) and do nothing about the underlying reason for the traffic – which in the case of Cheviot Hill – a frigging freeway off-ramp.

  • bzcat,

    You are unwittingly employing a fallacy – traffic is not like water. It is possible to discourage auto trips over time by blocking its flow – you can’t do the same with water in a river.

    Here is an example:

    You tear down a bridge that cars use to cross a gorge, replacing it with a foot bridge. The first day (or days) that the bridge is removed, people will show up with cars to cross the bridge. Pretty soon, however, all traffic will shift to the mode that allows travel across the gorge and/or traffic will decrease from its previous volume.

    There is not a magical fixed amount of automobile traffic given a set density of human beings in an urban area. Automobile travel is induced by circumstances paid for, largely, by all of collectively in the form of taxes and fees that build our roads to serve automobiles.

    Traffic calming DOES work, as it removes the ability to travel using a car in certain areas – thereby reducing the use of cars!

  • I highly recommend reading Tom Vanderbilt’s book Traffic for some in depth explanations and research behind both traffic calming and how sometimes counter intuitively removing or limiting routes can actually benefit over all system efficiency.

  • TrafficCalmer

    Apparently Cheviot Hill doesn’t have the same pull as Brentwood.

    Today, there is no trace of the former Waterford exit.


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