Victory For Vision Zero, Sidewalks, Bikes at Today’s Transportation Committee

Advocates packed the room at today's Transportation Committee meeting which approved significant funds for city Vision Zero efforts. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Advocates packed the room at today's Transportation Committee meeting which approved significant funds for city Vision Zero efforts. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

As expected, today’s Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee meeting featured a showdown over how the city will spend its Measure M local return funding. Measure M is Metro’s new half-cent sales tax. 16 percent of Measure M is returned to cities for local transportation projects and programs. The city of L.A. estimates that local return will amount to approximately $66 million annually.

Today’s Transportation Committee meeting was considering a motion that would have primarily directed L.A. local return monies to resurfacing deteriorated roads. Instead, the committee sidestepped road repair and directed local return dollars to Vision Zero, including specific funding for bicycle facilities, and sidewalks.

Discussion began with the city’s Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Legislative Analyst report [PDF] following the proposed council motion 16-0395 which would have dedicated two-thirds of Measure M local return funds toward road resurfacing, with the remaining funds going to “everything else.”

Early on, Transportation Committee chair Mike Bonin made an alternative proposal, dedicating all of L.A.’s Measure M local return to “health, safety, and equity.” Bonin characterized the committee’s choice as “either fill a bunch of potholes or save a bunch of lives.” Bonin’s proposal would allocate funds as follows (after paying the city’s 3 percent share on Metro Measure M projects in the city of L.A.):

  • 60 percent for Vision Zero
  • 20 percent for essentially Vision Zero curb-work “median island and curb extension improvements, including but not limited to bus bulbs, curb extensions, pedestrian refuge and median islands”
  • 10 percent for sidewalk repair and reconstruction on Vision Zero High Injury Network corridors
  • 10 percent for upgrade and expansion of bicycle infrastructure

Thirty-two public speakers, including City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, urged committee members to support Vision Zero, safety, complete streets, walking, and bicycling, and to prioritize these improvements in underserved low income communities of color. Among the numerous groups commenting were Investing in Place, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, the American Heart Association, TRUST South L.A., AARP, Los Angeles Walks, California Walks, SCOPE, Prevention Institute and many others. No speakers testified in favor of resurfacing.

Councilmembers Nury Martinez and Jose Huizar spoke in clear support of Bonin’s proposal.

LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds made the case for greater investments in saving lives, not only morally and ethically, but even in terms of the city’s fiscal liability. Reynolds emphasized that fatalities are rising in Los Angeles, and that Vision Zero engineering improvements are data-driven proven remedies for preventing future deaths. Reynolds compared New York City’s Vision Zero programs, funded at $155 million per year, to L.A.’s, currently under $4 million per year.

Councilmember Paul Koretz, apparently unaware of recent L.A. City Vision Zero studies, suggested that further study was needed before allocating funds to make streets safer. Koretz went on to blame pedestrian deaths on pedestrian behavior, and increased bicycle “accidents” on bicycle infrastructure. Koretz then questioned whether Measure M local return funding should go to Vision Zero or sidewalks.

Councilmembers David Ryu and Koretz proposed an alternative local return funding breakdown:

  • 60% for road resurfacing
  • 30% for Vision Zero
  • 10% for bicycle infrastructure

The Ryu/Koretz proposal was not approved.

Bonin’s proposal was approved on a 3-2 vote, with Ryu and Koretz opposed. This is a huge victory for health, safety, and livability in the city of Los Angeles. The Bonin proposal will still need to be approved by Public Works and Budget Committees, and by the full City Council.

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Kudos to CMs Bonin, Huizar, Martinez, and

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Today’s vote is a perfect example of why it is important that we support and elect leadership who base their decisions on data that challenge the status quo, rather than what’s popular or conveinient or whatever tv news is pushing. Newly re-elected Paul Koretz gets 5 1/2 more years to put motor vehicles before safe streets in his district. The very same will happen with CD1 if Gil Cedillo wins on May 16th. When chairs get shuffled in July, Cedillo could very likely become the deciding committee vote that would prioritize local return funds for cars. That is why more than ever people who want to push this city forward need to invest in getting Joe Bray Ali elected to City Council on May 16th.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Ten percent for bicycling is four times more than is allocated now.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The deciding vote to determine how the local return from Measure M is allocated will be determined before Josef Bray-Ali is in office.

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Yes. Expect Koretz, Cedillo, Price and possibly Ryu to oppose. The gist of my argument was about the need to elect future leadership that complete streets advocates can count on.

  • Matt

    The roads do need some money though. The City is incompetent and let them deteriorate to a level that is now a national embarrassment. Busses now have to navigate horribly bumby and dangerous roads that add to repair costs and keep riders away through a jostling ride. Also, bike lanes aren’t that great if there is a giant pothole in the middle of it or even uneven road conditions. The City has a responsibility to fix the roads and they said before Measure M that Measure M was key to fixing the D and F rated roads. So now what is the plan?

  • neroden

    An important point is that cars and buses and trucks can, in fact, drive on bumpy roads — even on gravel or dirt roads. It’s a little annoying but it works fine.

    Pedestrians NEED sidewalks, and people in wheelchairs PARTICULARLY need sidewalks. So sidewalks must be the priority. It’s OK to deal with the road surface *after* you fix the sidewalks.

  • Matt

    Potholes cause damage to cars and busses. The City pays out millions in damage claims. Yes, the sidewalks need to be fixed as well, but that shouldn’t preclude fixing the roads as the cost grows exponentially the longer they are allowed to deteriorate. The City is already legally obligated to spend $31M per year fixing the sidewalks. It appears they are going to wait for the State to raise gas taxes and registration fees to deal with that, but who knows if that will work.

  • Joe Linton

    Roads get a whole lot of Measure R local return money. Where did “the City” say that “Measure M was key to fixing the D and F rated roads”?

  • Matt

    Actually very little of Measure R goes to road repair in the City of Los Angeles. There was very little to no bump in road repair and City officials admit it has little effect. When last year’s report of road conditions came out and the City was pressed for a solution to all of its D and F rated roads that it is doing nothing about, the Mayor and others on the Council basically threw up their hands and said the best shot was Measure M as they can’t seem to be able to do the job through the normal budget like so many other cities in the State manage to do.
    This is a huge liability for the City as it is their sole responsibility and the costs just get bigger the longer the problem is ignored. It is not like the roads will just disappear. They seem to be banking on the State bailing them out, but that is not certain at all. Bonin couldn’t balance a checkbook and it is shameful to just dump a huge bill on the next generation, especially with taxes already going up.