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Bob Blumenfield

L.A. City Council Planning Committee Approves Motion to End Road Widening

L.A. spot widening via Google Street View

This afternoon, the L.A. City Council Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee unanimously approved a motion to end automatic spot road widenings. The motion (council file 22-1476) was authored by City Councilmembers Nithya Raman, Bob Blumenfield, and former Councilmember Mike Bonin. The motion had been approved by the council's Public Works Committee in January.

Safe streets advocates have long opposed the city's counter-productive "street dedications" which impair housing affordability, street safety, historic preservation, and more. Currently, for many streets, the city requires that properties automatically dedicate more and more space to cars every time new buildings are built. Hundreds of miles of street widening are included in the city’s Mobility Plan, where it isn’t “aspirational” like bike and bus facilities.

By itself, the motion does not actually end road widening. It sets up a process whereby city departments get together to outline what changes are needed to end the widening process; the city council would still have to approve those changes. Specifically the motion directs 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 “eliminate spot road widenings” and instead prioritize “pedestrian safety and visibility,” to “protect existing trees and parkways,” and to “ensure accessibility for people with disabilities.” The city's default would no longer be automatically widening streets, but the process would allow exceptions for “specific traffic safety or mobility benefits, such as closing a bike lane gap or eliminating a pinch point.”

Today's approval means the motion goes next to the full city council. After that approval, city departments would report back within sixty days with their recommendations.

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