Andres Perez Death Shows Need for North Figueroa Safety Improvements

Signs at last night's vigil for Andres Perez. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Signs at last night’s vigil for Andres Perez. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Tragedy has struck again on North Figueroa Street.

Yesterday, traffic violence claimed the life of 17-year-old Andres Perez. Perez was walking to school, apparently not aware that local schools had been closed on account of a terror threat. He was in the crosswalk, crossing North Figueroa Street at Avenue 60 in Highland Park, when a large Los Angeles City Public Works Bureau of Street Services truck made a left turn and ran into him. Perez died on the spot.

Last night, locals hosted a vigil to remember Perez, and to call for safer streets to prevent future deaths.

Sadly, the city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) had a plan to make this portion of North Figueroa safer, but in mid-2014 the planned safety improvements were blocked by Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

This is already the third traffic death on North Figueroa in 2015. On June 26, cyclist Jose Luna was killed by a speeding driver in a hit-and-run crash at North Figueroa and Marmion Way. Then on September 18, pedestrian Yolanda Lugo was killed by driver in a hit-and-run crash at North Figueroa and Avenue 55.

Councilmember Cedillo and broader Los Angeles leadership take the threat of terrorism seriously, while turning a blind eye to everyday traffic violence. LAUSD shut down 900 schools on the threat of terrorism. Metro, LAPD, LAFD, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and others mobilized to support LAUSD efforts. While it is probably important to respond to the threat of terror, the threat of traffic violence is all too real. And deserves a similarly serious mobilization.

Every year roughly 200 Angelenos lose their lives to traffic violence. Compare this to pretty much none lost to terrorism. Can L.A. respond to traffic violence the way it mobilizes against terrorism? Isn’t any loss of life a tragedy worth taking seriously?

Garcetti’s agency-wide Vision Zero initiative seems like a productive first step, but it needs to translate to safer street design if the city is prioritizing preventing future tragedies. LADOT seems to be taking Vision Zero seriously, but on-the-ground safety improvements are not happening quickly enough. Vision Zero’s safety targets needs to be prioritized by reluctant councilmembers like Gil Cedillo, and also across the board in city agencies – from Public Works Bureau of Street Services to the LAPD.

For additional coverage of this story, see KTLA5, L.A. Times or Daily News. Contribute to Perez funeral expenses at GoFundMe.

  • calwatch

    I do love how Jose Huizar shaded Cedillo by signing the petition and tweeting from the site.

  • Alexandre_Rousseau

    I mentioned this elsewhere, but it’s important to understand that, from Gil Cedillo’s perspective, the only safety measure that needs to be instituted on N. Figueroa is an anti-bullying campaign. The only reason Gil has given for not moving forward with road improvements is because he feels he is being bullied, and he has continuously stated that will not be bullied by the 1%.

    If you would like to make progress with Cedillo’s office, you may want to consider re-framing your efforts at eliminating the “bullies.” Gil has taken this to heart: when more and more pedestrians and cyclists die on N. Figueroa, it means fewer people who are irritating Gil Cedillo with “bullying” comments. So, as you can imagine, Gil is probably celebrating the death of yet another N. Figueroa bully.

    If the question is, “How many people must die before Gil Cedillo changes N. Figueroa to improve safety,” the answer is, “every person who annoys him with public comments that he disagrees with.”

    Gil has made this a personal issue, and he is blinded by his hatred of pro-cycling and pro-pedestrian advocacy groups. He will never change on this because he has clearly shown, again and again, that he would rather have citizens die on the streets than accept that somebody else was right on this issue.

  • LAifer

    Technically, the intersection of N Fig and Ave 60 is a border between CD1 and CD14, so the collision occurred in both districts. It’s good to see Huizar there, and it’s as much about being there for his constituents as anything else.

  • calwatch

    I think Cedillo just has a cars-first mentality. He framed driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants as something to help illegal immigrants to get to work and school, never mind that many unauthorized workers can’t afford cars or if they are driving, can’t afford insurance because they have no driving record. Now that he got driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants (trying very hard to avoid using the politically charged terms “illegal” and “undocumented”), he doesn’t want to hinder their mobility, which bike lanes would by slowing them down (even for a couple of minutes).

    At this stage, it’s important for the voters to weigh in, but last time Cedillo wasn’t voted out of office. Most people have more than one issue that they vote on, and so I think Cedillo feels that he is not politically vulnerable, since he supports immigrant rights, the living wage, and all the other issues the voters in his district vote on.

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Thanks for covering this Joe. It’s disheartening to see the TV media (KTLA excluded) cover this only as “An accident,” given the street’s deadly history and Cedillo’s controversial decision to maintain its unsafe design.

    Andres Perez was an example of Los Angeles’ future that Mobility Plan 2035 is designed for. He commuted from his home in Montebello to his school in Hermon via Metro Gold Line, walking or skating that last mile on Avenue 60. Figueroa needs to change to accommodate that future; a future that Andres tragically won’t see.

  • losangelebicycleattorney.com

    Of all the cries to sue the City because of deaths as a result of Cedillo’s recalcitrance on Figueroa, this is the one that could grab Cedillo’s attention. Between the fact that this poor guy was hit in a crosswalk and that it was by a City truck, the size of the settlement or verdict has the potential of forcing Cedillo to change his tune. I’d love to take his deposition. There is a HUGE public record out there of complaints about north Fig. I pray that whatever attorney gets this case videotapes Cedillo’s deposition.

  • Roderic Crooks

    The email Gil Cedillo sent me yesterday says, “Accidents like these are unexpected and difficult to process.” It’s infuriating that he sends such a dishonest and glib email after an entirely predictable fatality.

  • Hyeran Lee

    Can’t agree more.

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