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Bob Blumenfield

L.A. Public Works Committee Approves Motion to End Automatic Road Widening

5:01 PM PST on January 25, 2023

L.A. spot widening via Google Street View

This afternoon, the L.A. City Council Public Works Committee approved a motion that would "eliminate spot road widenings" long opposed by safe streets advocates. The motion (council file 22-1476) was authored by City Councilmembers Nithya Raman, Bob Blumenfield, and former Councilmember Mike Bonin.

Currently, the city requires that properties automatically dedicate more and more space to cars every time something new is built. Hundreds of miles of street widening are included in the city's Mobility Plan (and the widening isn't treated as "aspirational"). There are many reasons why this practice is counter-productive; it harms all housing affordability, street safety, historic preservation, and more.

The motion calls for the Bureau of Engineering (BOE), Department of City Planning (DCP), the Department of Transportation (LADOT), DCP’s Urban Design Studio, and other relevant departments, to report back with recommendations to reform the street dedication process:

    • to "eliminate spot road widenings"
    • to prioritize the "pedestrian experience" and "pedestrian safety and visibility" by minimizing crossing distance at intersections
    • to "protect existing trees and parkways" and foster "planting new and larger shade trees" and "green infrastructure elements"
    • to "ensure accessibility for people with disabilities"

Instead of automatically widening streets as a default, the new default would be keeping streets at their current width. Street widening would be allowed as an exception for "specific traffic safety or mobility benefits, such as closing a bike lane gap or eliminating a pinch point"

Public Works committee discussion on the item was brief. After a half-dozen public comments in favor of the motion, including comments from Streets for All and BikeLA, the motion was approved on consent. The motion will now go before the council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee, then the full city council for approvals; if approved by the full council, city departments will report back within 60 days with recommendations on how the city can eliminate spot widenings.

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