Councilman Smith Steps Up: Neighborhood Council Motion Now Addresses All Modes. (Updated, 10:10 A.M.)

(Update: Paul Krekorian’s office provides a copy of the resolution and a plug for the importance of Neighborhood Councils on their blog.  Read it here.)

Earlier this month, Streetsblog broke the news that Councilman Greig Smith was pushing a motion that would give Neighborhood Councils the ability to approve or veto bikeways projects before any changes would happen to city streets. Reaction was pretty harsh in the comments section, and I know several cyclists that wrote to Smith’s office to express disapproval. Some championed a second way of approaching the issue: instead of singling out bicycle projects have the motion apply to all modes. In other words, give NC’s the right to vote down widenings and expansion projects as well.

Smith receives an award from
Smith receives an award from the ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfvjaycees/1518290291/##San Fernando Valley Jaycees.##

Apparently, Smith heard you. Streetsblog just received a press release from the Council Office announcing a new resolution with a similar message.  However, this one applies to projects of all modes.  Smith goes out of his way in the release to state that this motion, sponsored by Paul Krekorian, is not just about Wilbur Ave. bike projects; but meant to give all neighborhoods a greater stake in the control of their streets.

Although this motion was precipitated by new road striping that included bike lanes on Wilbur Ave. in Northridge, it is not targeted specifically at bicycle traffic features. Councilman Smith supports making L.A. more bike friendly and increasing the number of bike lanes to make traveling by bike safer and more convenient. However, the Wilbur re-striping was done by DOT with complete disregard of the many serious concerns voiced by the community and by Smith’s office. In response, Smith submitted a motion that would require Neighborhood Council review for any bicycle traffic features. This new motion would expand that to include ANY new traffic features.

Regardless of one’s views on Smith or this motion, one does have to give him credit for listening to complaints from his constituents and making adjustments in proposed legislation.If this motion were to go through, it would place greater importance than ever on making sure people with progressive views on transportation can run for, and win, seats on their local Neighborhood Councils.

The entire release can be read after the jump.
Councilman Smith Motion Would Require Neighborhood Council Review on All New LADOT Traffic Features

Los Angeles – In a move to boost the role of Neighborhood Councils in new traffic features in the City of L.A., Councilman Greig Smith on Wednesday, September 22, introduced a motion that would require Neighborhood Council review on all new Department of Transportation (DOT) traffic features before installing them.

“We have heard a great deal of input from cycling advocates, Neighborhood Councils and community members who want to have more input on traffic improvements that affect their quality of life,” Councilman Smith said. “Traffic improvements can have a huge big impact – positive or negative – on safety, travel time and convenience for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, so it is crucial that community stakeholders’ voices are heard.”

The motion, co-presented by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, would have the DOT implement a policy of engaging in outreach and dialogue with the community before changing any traffic features, such as crosswalks, road striping, bike lanes, turn lanes, parking, traffic signals, stop signs and more. They would have to share the plans for any traffic feature with the Neighborhood Council representing the area where the project is proposed and hear and address their concerns and feedback before installation.

“Today’s motion is a step toward creating an expanded community outreach process that gives a voice to neighborhood leaders throughout our City on transportation issues and in creating a future L.A. where bicycles and cars peacefully share the road,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Chairman of the Education and Neighborhoods Committee. “It is vitally important to ensure that our Neighborhood Council members – who know their communities better than anyone – have a central role in setting priorities and addressing the array of specific transportation issues that impact their diverse communities.”

The Neighborhood Council system was established by the City Charter to fulfill exactly this type of advisory function. They are an excellent platform to communicate the sentiments and needs of community members on a highly localized level. They also are already established by the Charter as the preferred neighborhood-level advisory bodies. Most of them already have transportation committees and are highly engaged and knowledgeable about local traffic issues.

Although this motion was precipitated by new road striping that included bike lanes on Wilbur Ave. in Northridge, it is not targeted specifically at bicycle traffic features. Councilman Smith supports making L.A. more bike friendly and increasing the number of bike lanes to make traveling by bike safer and more convenient. However, the Wilbur re-striping was done by DOT with complete disregard of the many serious concerns voiced by the community and by Smith’s office. In response, Smith submitted a motion that would require Neighborhood Council review for any bicycle traffic features. This new motion would expand that to include ANY new traffic features.

We will announce progress on this motion on the newsletter and website at www.CD12.org.

  • Thank you Don Ward for all your work on this. I think it is in large part due to your efforts with other local community members that Smith changed the language on this motion. Nice work!

  • Stoked to see the language changed of the motion!

    For the record, the LADOT actually DID engage the public on the Wilbur issue LAST year when the flap about the Reseda bike lanes came about.

    At the time, the LADOT had posted signs on Wilbur Ave declaring that they would remove the marked crosswalks at Wilbur / Prairie and at Wilbur / Superior. To my understanding, a resident by the name of Paul Kirk collected 600 signatures opposing their removal… Reps from the LADOT were present at both the Northridge West NC and Northridge East NC meeting last year where myself and others spoke in defense specifically for the crosswalks – in addition to raising hell along with the rest of the community about Reseda being proposed as Anti Gridlock zone. if those 600 signatures didnt serve as a community notice to the LADOT that people WANT a safer Wilbur Ave then I don’t know what would… The way I see it, the LADOT’s response was to re design not only safer crosswalks, but put in place the Wilbur Road Diet to drive home the point that residents signed on to – we want a calmer street to live on. Most of the people I’ve talked to who are complaining about the Wilbur Road Diet come from the neighborhoods near Rinaldi and those who drive their children to school. The ones I’ve talked to in favor of the Wilbur Road Diet not surprisingly live ON the drag strip known as Wilbur Ave and appreciate the nice new crosswalks.

    Why on earth do people insist on driving their kids to school? My parents made me take the bus, and they themselves go on and on about how they walked 6 miles to school in the snow on their hands…. why deprive this generation of those kind of bragging rights??

    I appreciate Smith’s re-wording of the motion, but for him to claim that he supports bike facilities is not genuine to his actions. He voted against the measure R bike ped funding and Smith offered no support for either saving the crosswalks or the Reseda bike lanes, in fact his office opposed extending the Reseda bike lanes down to parthenia as per a meeting that Aurisha and I had with Smith’s office sometime after the Reseda bike lanes were implemented from the 118 to Devonshire.

    Bravo though, to Smith for re-wording the motion. I can’t find a link to the text of it… am I tripping?

  • Carter R

    This represents a great achievement by livable streets advocates, only if we continue to press hard and mobilize the grassroots to support road diets and bike/ped infrastructure. I definitely have faith (big time), but this is a huge opportunity and we all have to step up to meet it.

  • Don,

    You can click the link in the update, or right here:

    http://cd2policy.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/council-opens-lane-of-bike-communication-with-community/

    Krekorian posted a screen shot of the legislation. It’s not up on the city’s website yet…it usually takes a couple of days for legislation to post on the city’s website.

  • I view this as a minor change. Neighborhood councils as advisory bodies will be unable to stand in the way of significant projects where the Council office is on board (think big projects with traffic impacts or the Mayor’s one-way proposal from last year) but may well be vocal enough to be problematic – as where a bike lane is concerned. Just imagine converting curbside parking to a bus lane, for example.
    What would be an improvement if neighborhood councils are enabled to initiate DOT actions. So, not just to react but to act, too.
    How many times have we heard that a corner needs a stop sign because people have been killed or injured, only to see no action? Or a needed change in signage or parking regulations? These councils may do their homework but still be rebuffed because they are advisory groups in the shadow of City Council (to DOT). They are merely shouting into the void. At least with a proactive capacity to initiate, they can get a proposal on the table.
    Bike racks for new developments with 50+ workers? GREAT IDEA. Let them put it on the agenda instead of waiting for some other city entity to act.

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