Editorial: Monterey Park City Council Considers Making Garvey Avenue More Dangerous
On March 17, 2021, nearly 200 residents voiced opposition to a proposal to increase Garvey Avenue from four to six lanes, and to build two parking structures. Opponents cited safety, environmental, and business concerns. As a result, Monterey Park City Council tabled the proposal to gather feedback and consider alternatives.
Council is considering the Garvey Avenue proposal again this Wednesday February 16, with minor changes that attempt to address public concerns (adding bus infrastructure and bike signage.)
Regardless, the fact remains – if approved, Garvey would become a six-lane mini-highway for commuters to speed through on their way home from work. This would benefit outside commuters while making our local streets more dangerous for residents – residents like the elderly Asian man who was hit and killed right in front of me during rush hour last October. That crash took place on Atlantic, just north of Garvey.
The city claims that the proposal would ease congestion. However, the project would do the opposite. Increasing Garvey to six lanes will bring more cars, more pollution to our neighborhood streets, and worsen congestion. It would not be hard to imagine a widened Garvey Avenue acting as a bypass for the 10 Freeway.
It seems counterintuitive, but it’s based on an economic concept called induced demand. Basically what that means is that if you increase the amount of road space, then you increase how much people will drive. Traffic engineers have documented this since the 1960s, and dozens of studies have proven that when governments devote more space to driving, more drivers will come. The current proposal would expand Garvey’s capacity by 50%, therefore incentivizing 50% more drivers to take Garvey during rush hour, rather than staying on the 10 freeway or seeking other modes of transit.
Downtown Monterey Park is long overdue for revitalization. While neighboring cities have vibrant, pedestrian-friendly business hubs, Garvey Avenue has been left behind. Instead of creating a plan to build upon Monterey Park’s neighborhood charm, making Garvey Avenue six lanes ensures the city remains little more than a pass-through city for commuters. After all, how will businesses thrive when customers can’t park in front of storefronts, or when seniors and young families must risk their safety by walking alongside speeding traffic?
An upcoming project is adding protected bike lanes to Monterey Pass Road, bringing much needed support for active transportation to Monterey Park. This is the type of project we should consider on Garvey Avenue in place of more car lanes. Furthermore, studies show that improving pedestrian and bike infrastructure have led to significant benefits, including providing foot traffic to food and retail businesses, boosting employment there. These “active transportation” projects could greatly benefit the existing restaurants in Downtown Monterey Park.
If the City Council votes yes on Wednesday, it would be a short-sighted decision based on the myth that more lanes means less traffic. The truth is that we will all suffer from increased traffic, worsening air quality, and more dangerous streets. The truth is that more people, especially our seniors and children, will get hurt or die.
Public opposition is strong, and the City Council must send this proposal back to the drawing board and find fact-based solutions for managing traffic.
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Please send public comment (template below) to email@example.com by 6 p.m. tomorrow – Tuesday, February 15.
Subject: Item 2A: I oppose Garvey lane additions
Dear Mayor Lo and City Councilmembers.
My name is ______. I am a resident of Monterey Park [or insert a sentence here that clarifies your connection to Monterey Park.]
I am writing to ask you to vote NO on Item 2-A tonight. Adding lanes on Garvey will not decrease traffic. In fact, it will increase traffic over time. It will ruin the neighborhood feel of Monterey Park and make our streets more dangerous for everyone.
[Insert a few sentences about alternative traffic proposals you would like to see – ex: pedestrian infrastructure, bike lanes, public transportation, etc]
Jennifer Love Tang is a public school teacher and community organizer based in Monterey Park. Connect with her on Instagram @jenniferlovetang or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.