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Keep L.A. Moving Continues Lawsuit, After City Undid Safety Improvements

Vista Del Mar as returned to four car lanes in August 2017. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

Despite the city of Los Angeles undoing its Playa Del Rey road diet safety improvements, Keep L.A. Moving are not backing down from their lawsuit.

For readers unfamiliar with the timeline:

    • In June, responding to earlier deaths and injuries, LADOT implemented road diet safety improvements on four Playa Del Rey streets: Culver Boulevard, Jefferson Boulevard, Pershing Drive, and Vista Del Mar. The projects, designed to reduce speeds, quickly triggered a backlash from drivers claiming huge commute delays.
    • In August, Redondo Beach-based Keep L.A. Moving (KLM) filed a lawsuit to restore the four streets to their original condition.
    • From July through early October, LADOT took several steps to partially undo the improvements, including restoring four lanes to Vista Del Mar in August.
    • In July, Councilmember Mike Bonin formed a Playa Del Rey street safety task force to review data and make recommendations. Task force member Peter Flax reported that when data showed minimal traffic delays, complaints shifted to subjective impacts on businesses.
    • On October 18, Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced full undo of PDR lane reductions.
    • By the end of November, LADOT completed on-the-ground work restoring all PDR travel lanes that had been eliminated.

One would think that once a bunch of drivers get "their" car lanes back, they might stop complaining.

Nope.

These sore winners seem incapable of just declaring victory.

Now they complain that the PDR undo is not good enough... because - get this - the lanes have been narrowed!

An LADOT legal memorandum states that because the department acted "to rescind the Playa del Rey Project in its entirety... all travel lanes were restored as existed" the PDR lawsuit is now "moot." Responding to this, at this week's City Council Transportation Committee meeting (audio - item 12), KLM lawyer Kristina Kropp stated that appellants would continue "until full restoration is achieved." The appellants' legal comment letter clarifies that "the roads have not been restored to their original, pre-May 2017 condition ... and maintain bicycle lanes and lanes which are narrower than existed before." (emphasis added)

Note that two bike lanes - on Pershing, and on Culver through downtown PDR - have already been removed. The only bike lanes remaining are on streets where there was sufficient space to squeeze the bike lane in alongside the pre-existing car travel lanes. Since the 2013 passage of AB417, adding these sorts of bike lanes does not require environmental review.

The KLM folks complain about city fiscal responsibility, spreading the lie that the city "misappropriated Measure M funds" on safety improvements installed in June before the Measure M sales tax went into effect in July. They now perversely waste city funds in extending their legal fight long after their demands were met.

Does KLM really want the city to spend more money doing extensive Environmental Impact Report studies when it narrows the width of car lanes?

Note that they are not complaining about car lanes on Vista Del Mar now being wider than they were before. Modifying streets to be faster and more deadly doesn't rate a mention.

Doubling down on the lawsuit seems to point to a vindictive streak. Continuing the lawsuit now seems designed to put the city on notice that these reactionaries will fight tooth and nail to preserve PDR streets in a frozen 20th-century state, even as much of the rest of the world works to make places safer and healthier.

Let's hope that the courts see this matter for what it is: whiny entitled spite, held tightly long after common sense would dictate otherwise.

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