Happy Endings: Judge Rules Traffic Calming Measures Put Back in Holmby-Westwood

7_8_10_selby.jpgThese humps appeared on Selby Avenue.  For more images of the removed traffic calming, visit our Flickr page.

Yesterday, Judge Robert O’Brien of the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a tentative ruling that traffic calming measures in the Holmby-Westood community that were removed by the LADOT and City Council in the summer of 2009 be returned.  The traffic calming was first put in as part of a Neighborhood Protection Plan (NPP) when the Palazzo development was constructed on the west side of the community.  The measures were "only temporary" pending a vote of the neighborhood six months after installation.  However, when LADOT surveyed the community, they surveyed a different and larger area than the one agreed to in the plan.  The vote to keep the traffic calming was approved by "only" 60% of residents who responded to the survey, which was short of the two-thirds needed to keep the calming in place.

O’Brien was as confused by the city’s rationale for changing the survey area as project supporters and chided the LADOT and the City for utterly failing to live up to the Neighborhood Protection Plan. Because the agreement between community, developers and city was a condition for the construction of Palazzo, the NPP has the force of law.  By distributing a ballot to areas that were not deemed "effected areas" in the NPP, the City broke the law:

Screen_shot_2010_07_07_at_9.20.51_PM.png

The result?  The city has to put the traffic calming back, and put it in permanently.  No lobbying by the City Council office, or maneuvering by the LADOT can change that simple fact.

Last year when the removal was being debated in City Hall, it amazed me that these measures were so controversial, yet it was an issue that divided the community.  At the two City Council Transportation Committee hearings on the issue there was shouting, accusations of lying, and even charges of rigging the LADOT’s survey.  Tough times.  And what were the measures that were so controversial?  I described them last year:

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, a restriction 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.

The judge’s decision leaves plenty of people with egg on their faces.  Poor Councilman Jack Weiss, who already lost his election for City Attorney, was the City Council Champion for the residents who lived east of the effected area that wanted the calming removed.  His cohorts on the Transportation Committee, many of whom still sit on the committee, voted unanimously to remove the traffic calming.  Worst of all, LADOT and City Planning both went to the mat to defend the idea that the Neighborhood Protection Plan was not a contract between their departments and residents.  Now there’s judicial precedence that these plans aren’t just "contracts" but that they actually carry the weight of law.

But the biggest losers are the people of Holmby-Westwood who live east of the effected areas.  LADOT traffic counts showed increased traffic on these streets when the measures were in place.  Doubtless that traffic will return.  Instead of spending the last two years fighting for similar protective measures for their streets that their neighbors will now enjoy; they’ve spent that time more concerned about speeding up traffic on those streets to their west so the whole neighborhood.

I honestly feel bad for these folks, who seem to genuinely be concerned about the safety of their streets that are being used as a cut-through to Palazzo and UCLA.  After last year’s articles, I received several angry emails accusing me of only telling one side of the story.  However, sympathy for their situation doesn’t mean I agree with their strategy.  If they wanted similar measures on their streets, Streetsblog would stand with them.  When the message is that the city needs to remove other streets’ calming, that’s not something that Streetsblog will support.

But the winners are the residents who fought developers, their City Councilman, the LADOT, City Planning, the City Council and heck, just about the entire city bureaucracy for the right to have streets free of people looking for a shortcut to the Palazzo development.  Their tenaciousness is going to bring the measures they desire back to their streets.  Let’s hope the news of their happy ending inspires more Los Angeles communities to fight for slower streets.  I had a chance to talk to Esther Magna, who is one of the leaders of the Holmby-Westwood Traffic Committee and sent me the official ruling from Judge O’Brien. She could barely contain her excitement in talking about not just how happy they were with the outcome after the long struggle, but how much she looked forward to cut through traffic for a retail development getting off her street.

Her neighbors are correct when they argue that moving the traffic off a couple of streets on to a couple of others is the proper solution.  If the city really wants to protect this neighborhood from cut-through traffic, they’ll find a way to get those cars back on the arterial streets where they belong.

  • That whole fiasco was not surprising at all. In L.A. that is how stuff typically turns out. Good for the neighbors that took their grievance to the courts.

    The “Neighborhood Protection Plan” is a wonderful tool to implement traffic calming, unless it is abused (as it was in this case). I’ve never seen one up close, and I’ve never seen any written policies or forms that make up the skeleton of the plan.

    How can we find out more bout this NPP process? Why isn’t an NPP done for transportation projects like the Valley Blvd. grade separation? Or the Pico-Olympic one-way plan? The city holds the private development community to standards it doesn’t follow itself.

  • I just re-read the title of this post and Damian … I am disgusted!

  • Phred

    Jack Weiss was not the “Champion for the residents who lived east of the effected area”, but the Champion for Casden, the developer of Palazzo. By the original agreement, it is Casden that has to pay for the traffic calming measures, so removing them was Weiss’s parting gift to the developer. Not surprisingly, Casden was previously convicted of giving thousands in illegal campaign contributions to Weiss. Weiss was required to return those illegal contributions and the corresponding matching funds provided by the City, but never did.

  • larry

    Phred the Trutanich PR Hack is Back, making his usual gratutiously nasty comments turning this into a continuation of the nasty, fake political smear campaign they ran. Can’t you just keep it on the issues for ONCE? If the residents “east of the affected” area didn’t want the speed bumps indefinitely, while some other areas did, it just shows that a neighborhood is a much more nuanced area and should have been treated as such, so this court ruling pleases some, upsets others, the ones “Weiss Championed.”

    For pete’s sake stop acting like such a bitter jerk just because your guy, the Carpetbagging Clown from Long Beach as he’s called, Carmen the Soap Opera that Never Ends, has quickly become the most universally despised, distrusted and discredited guy in city government ever, on so many levels, even earning himself slams from every paper on everything from (most recently) being caught trying to engineer an illegal end-run around the city charter to grab more power for himself that is explicitly prohibited (slams from both key authors of both versions of the Charter, from the whole generally conservative CA Assn. of DA’s, from the Assembly itself which had initially been asleep when the Trutanich-Cedillo Grudge Bill slipped through). L A Times editorials from one of the Charter authors Sonnenshein, noted his character and pattern – using his office to intimidate without even legal cause – made him the person most unsuited to the power even if it had been legal, which it wasn’t. And was “likely unconstitutional,” but hey, what’s that. Trutanuch ad to apologize to AEG’s (head of Staples Live) CEO Leiwike for trying to shake him down for $6 million blabbing about “criminal aspects” to the Michael Jackson’s security detail, in fact, eating crow and calling Leiweke one of L A ‘s finest citizens ever, admitting he had no legal basis for his initial smear tactics after being called out as a bully who was to “put up or shut up.”

    And how many editorials has the Daily News written in the last year about his arrogant, wasteful, and confrontation-producing instead of reducing, battle with the City Controller who he’s blocked from audited ANY city officials so she can’t audit him, AFTER swearing on all that’s holy to Laura Chick, that he’d support her and drop Rocky’s lawsuit first-thing?

    And ask the poor duped sots in the pro-medical pot community, starting with Don Duncan (blog aboutmedicalmarijuana.com), who Trutanich got to work hard FOR Him and turn out lots of votes and money, but who now has more than egg on his face – he’s been singled out for active “special investigation” because horrors (there’s gambling in Casablanca!), he’s influential in the movement. The very reason he was USED and dumped.
    Ask Jan Perry how she feels about being threatened with jail because she was doing her job which happened to disagree with him and AEG who he hated for political reasons. (Guess he’s eyeing them for future fundraisers now?) She, Wendy Greuel the Controller, and much of the Council have to hire outside legal counsel when he’s supposed to be their lawyer, what a joke. He wanted that “secret” grand jury to get dirt on them instead – he uses his top aides he’s got handed to him from Cooley as the DA’s eyes and ears, making a mockery of Attorney-Client privilege and the ESSENCE OF HIS JOB. If there’s crooked stuff going on, that’s for the feds and the hardly impartial Republican DA, who’s apparently singling out weakest-link Alarcon for a “public corruption” poster-boy. Trutanich forgets WHO he works for.

    Nobody but a few rightwing teabaggers still supports this guy, Cooley’s puppet and empty tool in his run for office (why he’s using our city resources, financial and cops, to criminalize medical pot dispensaries, just as the voters are going in the other direction to tax them). – makes you desperate, huh, “Phred?” So you got nothin’ but the same pathetic little comment about some contribution long, long ago put to rest by the Ethics Commission. Don’t you see that when you show up with such gratuitous same-old pathetic insults all you do is show your hand, because as my examples just touch the surface, your guy has so many fundamental neg’s to his very character, ability as a lawyer and understanding of his job, he ain’t goin’ nowhere but back to Long Beach. Hear he can paddle on the canal in Long Beach where he lives, when he’s not on that Harley – not much use for L A Streetsblog there. take your crap to your rightwing blogs like that of Minuteman/ top Aide – Walter Moore running mate, David Berger.

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