L.A. Planning Commission Won’t Approve Mobility Plan Before April 2015

Planning Commission
Department of City Planning staffer My La summarizes Mobility Plan 2035 before L.A.’s Planning Commission. The Commission continued the plan until April 2015. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Los Angeles City Planning Commission hosted its initial review of the city’s proposed new transportation plan, called Mobility Plan 2035. The meeting included Department of City Planning (DCP) staff presentations, public testimony, and discussion by planning commissioners. At the end of today’s hearing, the Planning Commission voted to direct planning staff to:

  • incorporate planning commissioner comments into a revised version of the plan
  • create a separate document specifying priorities and implementation strategy
  • return to the Planning Commission in April 2015, when the plan’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is expected to be complete

DCP has made 34 pages of revisions to the draft plan released two weeks ago. Planning staff stated that they expect to post the revisions document later today at the LA2B website.

It is encouraging that among its revisions the plan will use the broadly accepted meaning of Vision Zero, not the partial version proposed in the previous draft. The plan, as currently proposed, includes this goal:

Vision Zero: Decrease transportation-related fatality rate to zero by 2035.

Public testimony included representatives from various business groups, L.A. Chamber of Commerce, Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA), the L.A. County Business Federation, and others speaking in support of keeping the plan’s proposed Vehicle Enhanced Network (VEN – profiled here.)

The L.A. County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) and Cyclists Inciting Change thru Live Exchange (C.I.C.L.E.) supported the Bicycle Enhanced Network, and the plan’s overall “aspirations.” Los Angeles Walks founder (and Streetsblog L.A. board member) Deborah Murphy suggested that the plan needs to “go further,” including by outlining a clear “strict process” for making streets more livable.

Also testifying were South Los Angeles groups, including TRUST South L.A. and Community Health Councils, which supported the plan’s focus on safer streets. 

Commissioners’ remarks were varied, though they generally sounded supportive of the plan. A few made statements along the lines of Commissioner John W. Mack’s, who said he was “all for bicyclists and pedestrians” but wanted a “realistic balance” because L.A. is “hooked on automobiles.” Multiple commissioners requested additional details regarding timelines and implementation. Commissioner Renee Dake Wilson pressed for a list of changes, including greater attention to trees, rainwater, first/last mile transit connections, car share, safety, sidewalks, and crosswalks.

The issue of street widening, the subject of yesterday’s SBLA editorial, was touched on quite a bit. In her initial presentation, planner My La stated that the plan minimizes widening by designating streets in ways that better reflect existing street widths. In her explanatory slide show, she cited the example of Alvarado Street between 7th Street and 8th Street, stating that the existing right-of-way is 82.5 feet wide. According to La, under the current road widening standards, this block is designated for a 104-foot roadway width, but under the new plan, it would only be widened to 86 feet. The plan would reduce this block’s designated widening from 21.5 feet to just 3.5 feet.

After public comment (including Deborah Murphy’s and this writer’s personal testimony against the plan’s designated road widening), DCP’s Claire Bowen stated that the intention of the plan was in general to not widen roads, but that in places where the city has already partially widened them, DCP favored widening some remaining narrow stretches to meet “prevailing dimensions.”

Streetsblog will continue to follow this story as revisions are made to the plan and when it returns to the Commission in April 2015.

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