Is Bikelash Spreading to Some of the More Progressive Neighborhood Councils?

Last night, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council voted to “reconsider” its support of the recently-passed Mobility Plan for the City of Los Angeles. The plan, which places safety at the center of all transportation decisions instead of vehicle travel speed, has been a favorite target for conservative talk radio hosts, “Fix the City,” and now some Neighborhood Councils who favor the reverse.

LACBC has made bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard connecting to Expo and to UCLA a priority for years.
The LACBC has made bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard connecting to Expo and to UCLA a priority for years.

The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, located in newly-elected David Ryu’s 4th Council District, isn’t the first Neighborhood Council to reconsider support for the Mobility Plan. The Mar Vista Neighborhood Council considered, and rejected, a motion from one of its transportation committee chairs to change its position from support for the mobility plan to opposition. Mar Vista’s vote, which occurred hours after the City Council passed the plan, was good politics given that their Westside City Councilmember was one of the leading forces in getting the plan passed.

However, there is still an opportunity for mischief.

Three Councilmembers are pushing amendments that would gut the plan in their districts. Councilmembers Curren Price and Paul Koretz are each proposing removing planned bike lanes from Central Avenue and Westwood Boulevard. Both of these streets are designated as “Great Streets” by the L.A. Mayor’s Office. Taking bike infrastructure off the table on Westwood and Central seems a direct challenge to Vision Zero and Great Streets and the soaring rhetoric of Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Meanwhile, Councilmember Gil Cedillo has slipped into self-parody and is actually proposing to remove all planned infrastructure in his northeast Council District.

These amendments were tabled in August, but a report on their projected impact is due later this month. Because the last City Council Transportation Committee in September has been cancelled, and its schedule falls on the first night of Yom Kippur, these proposals will likely be debated again in October.

This is where the Neighborhood Council opposition could become important. It is unlikely that Ryu will take a stance against the plan in his district. But, if he hears enough noise against the plan, might he consider backing Koretz, or Price, or even Cedillo?

It’s doubtful that Silver Lake and Mar Vista have the only neighborhood councils that are either reconsidering support for the plan or looking at it for the first time and having some concerns. Will this be enough to see any changes to the vision outlined by Garcetti and supported by the City Council for a safe multi-modal future? Time will tell, but the first test of the city’s resolve could come before the end of the fall.

  • LAifer

    For all its talk of being “progressive,” the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council is starting to look like nothing changed in its huge election last year, and it is still just as car-centric as it ever was. What a joke.

  • robertoihus

    This is Anne Marie Johnson throwing red meat at the NiMBY’s. She recently had a town hall about Moby’s Little Pine Restaurant because he wanted a beer and wine license. She’s tried with small lot developments and AirBnB and hasn’t been successful with any of them. But she gets to be on stage and write up from the local media.

  • jennix

    Please repeat this loud and repeat it often:

    If you take away our bicycle facilities, we will have no choice but to take the entire lane instead. Your choice.

  • ubrayj02

    I can tell you this: when a Neighborhood Council is in favor of bike projects it is often roundly ignored/ When a Neighborhood Council is opposed to bike projects every journalist and politician within sonic boom distance shows up and “stands up for the people” in opposition to bike projects.

    The bottom line is either we, as an interest group (safe, walkable, bike-friendly, transit oriented streets people), organize and fundraise to build a coalition of voters or we get hammered by all the stupid anecdotes and people sticking their oars out of the side of the boat and dragging them in the water just to slow down the direction history is taking us right now.

    If the neighborhood councils mattered, it wouldn’t take a dozen votes of your relatives and friends to secure your seat on one. It is ridiculously easy to game a Neighborhood Council – which is burdened by Brown Act rules and totally toothless with no statutory power whatsoever. To build a Neighborhood Council-based sweep of seats we could definitely manage as a voting block – but what would it give us, really? The effort itself would bring people together but we’d soon be ground down on the wheel of insanity that is NC meetings and local controversy over which color decorative tape to wrap the street trees with this year, whether to give $1,000 to the local high school football team, and that unauthorized lunch the treasurer took with his 25 best friends in Las Vegas on the NC’s dime. Snore fest times a million.

    If we instead focused on registering livable streets voters, hosting bike rides and tours and parties to build community, petition gathering to build email and cell phone contact lists to go match up with the city’s approved plans that improve livability but which are missing a coherent constituency, and play, share stories, and hang out together – if we did that instead, we’d have a political class running scared from us in 2016 and 2017.

    So, bike-lash from Neighborhood Councils? Pffft!

    It is only a big deal if we continue to marginalize the many voices in this city crying out for positive change in the way our streets are designed and managed.

  • b.d.

    “It is only a big deal if we continue to marginalize the many voices in
    this city crying out for positive change in the way our streets are
    designed and managed.” Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing when you tar neighborhood councils with your big fat brush of insignificance. You’re the one who’s ignoring pro-Mobility Plan NCs (which is most of them). As representatives of the neighborhood, they’re the “coherent constituency” who are “hosting bike rides and tours and parties to build community,” plus they have at least a sliver of the ear of the Mayor and their City Council reps. But if NCs are really a “snore fest times a million,” then what do you propose as an alternative? Your one-man crusade against Gil Cedillo? How’s that going — and how much better do you think it’s gonna go now that you’ve alienated your local NCs, who have been fighting against the old white men of NELA and their car-loving Chambers of Commerce, who have had their hooks in local government for decades? If you think NCs have no skin in the livable streets game, why not go up to Eagle Rock (or use Google) and ask how those bike lanes on Colorado got put in, and how close they came to being delayed (i.e., killed) by the ER Chamber of Commerce, and how hard the ERNC worked to get them a fair shake. Check out what the HHPNC has been doing to lobby for safer streets, and how they build community. And read the article above a little more closely — just because something’s on the agenda doesn’t mean it will pass; indeed, when these things don’t pass, the NC is re-affirming its support for the Mobility Plan, on the record. Here’s a radical idea: Maybe instead of throwing bombs on the internet, you can get some relatives together and they can vote you onto your local NC, where you can work for real change from the inside — since that’s the only way it ever happens.

  • ubrayj02

    Good luck with being a kennel dog in some Neighborhood Council pound they have you trapped in.

    I rallied my neighbors in 2007 and got elected my my local NC. They only matter when a group of people would have mattered without the NC. I don’t see the NC system providing any boost that wouldn’t have existed in the first place – all of which means that we need to engage in the things that get people connected and working together in the first place.

    I get confused about my “one man” crusade against Cedillo sometimes. Where is that “one man” you are talking about? Here I/we are in 2013.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/ubrayj02/11179248416/

    Influence through Neighborhood Councils is a sign of power, it is not real power. You sound like all the suckers I met during the Mayor’s Budget Day I went to back when Villaraigosa was in office. You know, we even got to sit in his press room and he listened to our b.s. for 40 whole minutes!

    The last cycle of NC elections we got a small group of local people and voted in 3 NC elections in series, riding up N. Figueroa St. and helped elect a few bike-friendly face in Cypress Park and Arroyo Seco and helping with a near clean-sweep in Historic Highland Park. Unfortunately, that hasn’t resulted in any real gains in street safety because the power of 10 people voting in elections with less than 200 voters doesn’t count for squat when you’re up against real power and money in LA. So, when you have no friend in your council office NC’s aren’t worth the time. Actual, real, work with your neighbors is what gets results.

    “Real change from the inside” is the braying of a middle class college educated coward. If you have no fire in the steam engine, the train don’t move.

  • ubrayj02

    Good luck with being a kennel dog in some Neighborhood Council pound they have you trapped in.

    I rallied my neighbors in 2007 and got elected to my local NC. Neighborhood Councils only matter when a group of people, who would have mattered without the NC, use the NC to do what they would have done anyway. I don’t see the NC system providing any boost that wouldn’t have existed in the first place – all of which means that we need to engage in the things that get people connected and working together in the first place.

    I get confused about my “one man” crusade against Cedillo sometimes. Where is that “one man” you are talking about? Here I/we are in 2013.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/ubrayj02/11179248416/

    Influence through Neighborhood Councils is a sign of power, it is not real power. You sound like all the suckers I met during the Mayor’s Budget Day I went to back when Villaraigosa was in office. You know, we even got to sit in his press room and he listened to our b.s. for 40 whole minutes!

    The last cycle of NC elections we got a small group of local people and voted in 3 NC elections in series, riding up N. Figueroa St. and helped elect a few bike-friendly face in Cypress Park and Arroyo Seco and helping with a near clean-sweep in Historic Highland Park. Unfortunately, that hasn’t resulted in any real gains in street safety because the power of 10 people voting in elections with less than 200 voters doesn’t count for squat when you’re up against real power and money in LA. So, when you have no friend in your council office NC’s aren’t worth the time. Actual, real, work with your neighbors is what gets results. If Neighborhood Councils are how things get done, fine – great! Based on my own experiences, it is totally hit or miss and just as often there are people doing more without the yoke of the Brown Act and “budget oversight” thrown around their necks.

    “Real change from the inside” is the braying of a middle class college educated coward. If you have no fire in the steam engine, the train don’t move.

  • RR

    Actually, there was no town hall about Moby’s Little Pine eatery. No idea WTF you are talking about. There also has been NO Town Hall about Small Lot Developments. There was a meeting maybe 1 or 1.5 years ago, but that was something CD13 was doing for constituents. Guess you have a problem with knowing what is going on around SL, eh?

    She did do a Town Hall on AirBnB, you got at least one right. ;)

  • RR

    You haven’t got a clue. That Board elected last year has done a lot of shit. You’re just not paying attention. You’d rather engage in negative platitudes. How’s that workin’ out for ya? Happy in life…?

  • You’re both right!

    I think there is some truth to what both of you are saying. NC’s are effective when the CM listens. After all, the Historic Highland Park NC has voted several times in support of complete streets and bike lanes on Figueroa yet has yielded no results from Gilbert Cedillo. However, look at the Mid-City NC. They wanted a network of traffic calmed streets for biking and Koretz (!!!) has been on board. That NC went from concept to outreach to community rides to identify problems to applying to Metro funding and actually getting funded. That’s an impressive accomplishment and should be a model for progressive NC’s looking to have a lasting positive impact.

    All too often NC’s do get bogged down in mundane funding issues, neighborhood clean ups, and either supporting or opposing developments. The ERNC has done good stuff too, like planting trees and holding neighborhood bike rides. The real power does come from the CM, and electing a good CM is far more important than electing a good NC.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    Unless indicated differently, “The Lane” is a general travel lane. We are entitled to “take the entire lane” regardless. Even with the discriminating CVC 21202, we are entitled to the entire lane if it is less than 14 feet wide.

    Access to the public roads and freedom to travel is a right. The use of automobiles on the roads is a privilege. As cyclists, we have a right to the road. It is time we exercise that right.

  • Remind us again how 21654 would be a better law to apply to bicyclists than 21202.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    Many times between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. motorists are slowing me down. Thankfully we can split lanes in California.

  • DangerMan

    I’m tired of some of these bike lanes myself.. There is never any bikes in the ones I see.

  • Joe Linton

    You may be just concern-trolling – but if the problem is that “There is never any bikes” then removing bike lanes won’t solve it. Better to extend the lanes further, connect them to a network – then there will be more bikes there.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    Your assumption is infrastructure is the main reason people do not bicycle. You can build all the infrastructure you want, it will not get people out of the comfort of their automobiles. As long as gas is cheap and driving a car is faster, people will prefer to drive. Let’s admit it, bicycling is work. People may complain about congestion; but as long as they can sit in leather seats, in air conditioned comfort, listening to music, news, or chatting on the phone, they will prefer to be in a car.

    Want people on bikes instead of in cars: triple the price of gas; mandate employers to have showers, lockers, and bicycle parking.

    True, millennials currently prefer to walk and cycle; but they are no where near the level baby boomers where in the 1970’s. If millennials follow in the footsteps of their parents (baby boomers), when they have families and advance in their careers, they will prefer the comfort of the automobile.

  • ubrayj02

    Building a connected bike network, of lanes that are not 3rd rate crap, most decidedly DOES increase the rates of cycling, and does so considerably.

    The idea to raise the price of gas and force employers to install showers and lockers will not have nearly the same effect. Even if we got 100% of employers to install lockers and showers, tripled the price of gas, we still wouldn’t have streets safe enough to ride on.

  • ubrayj02

    Of course nobody sees us! We can be wearing bright colors covered in lights and “nobody sees us”. We get hit and killed in disproportionate numbers.

    How about you get a good nights sleep, hydrate, eat a nice breakfast and wake the hell up!

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