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Measure HLA - Healthy Streets

Council Public Works Committee Hears Measure HLA Items, Implementation Remains on Hold Through at Least Early August

Remember those bus, bike, and walk upgrades voters approved? They're now waiting for a first draft ordinance expected in August - four months after Measure HLA took effect.

L.A. City Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA) photo

On Wednesday, the L.A. City Council Public Works Committee met to discuss three agenda items related to the city's approach to bus/bike/walk improvements mandated by voters in the passage of Measure HLA. With a few modifications, the Public Works Committee largely affirmed what the council's Transportation Committee already approved back in late March.

Measure HLA - the Healthy Streets L.A. initiative - currently mandates that the city implement its approved Mobility Plan during street resurfacing.

Though advocates had been awaiting yesterday's committee approvals as the next clarifying step for HLA, the brief meeting yielded very little new information. The Public Works Committee approved the HLA items, but put off further departmental reports and council HLA decisions until an August 7 meeting of the Transportation Committee.

Prior to the March election, the City Administrative Officer had warned that the council would need to "make funding decisions immediately" if Measure HLA were to pass. It did pass, and became law on April 9. Now, "immediately" has slipped to "have a rough draft ready to discuss in August, four months after HLA passage."

After HLA took effect, the city Public Works Department Bureau of Street Services (StreetsLA) quietly put Mobility Plan implementation on hold. According to the partial list shared on StreetsLA's Resurfacing Work Completed website, the bureau has completed 109 street resurfacing projects since HLA took effect, exactly zero of which have triggered HLA upgrades. (The majority of L.A. city resurfacing takes place on smaller streets that are not on Mobility Plan bus/bike/walk networks, but from January 1 to April 9 about one in fifteen to twenty resurfacing projects would have triggered improvements. Since April 9, that has been zero in 109+.)

Wednesday's meeting did yield a few statements that hint toward how the city will approach HLA mandates.

City Transportation Department (LADOT) General Manager Laura Rubio-Cornejo remarked that LADOT has been meeting with other departments for months regarding coordinating compliance with Measure HLA. "LADOT has submitted a list of project-ready Mobility Plan corridors to our partners at BSS [Bureau of Street Services - StreetsLA] to review for resurfacing eligibility," stated Rubio-Cornejo. "We hope to deliver those projects jointly in coming months." The DOT list has not been shared with the public; it may be the same as the work plan that a DOT spokesperson announced on June 4, stating "a joint work plan is currently being finalized and will be made publicly available in coming weeks."

City Councilmember Imelda Padilla's remarks focused on the need for thorough outreach for what she termed "drastic changes" under Measure HLA.

"It's one thing to notify members [that] streets will be closed for so many days, versus the entire make-up of your street next door is going to change with a bike path," Padilla stated. (It's a nitpicky semantic point, but HLA doesn't apply to the Mobility Plan's bike paths, because they are not located on streets. HLA does mandate installing approved the plan's bike lanes. In some cases bus/bike/walk improvements would reconfigure parts of streets - including removing parking or a travel lane - though the plan is not quite visionary enough to change the "entire make-up" of any city street.)

Rubio-Cornejo responded to Padilla, assuring her that LADOT always conducts outreach and engagement, scaled to the magnitude of changes in a project. Padilla requested LADOT to report back formally, documenting current levels of notification and outreach.

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who has fairly consistently supported safe street projects in his own district, proposed a couple of positive modifications. One worthwhile change pushed by Blumenfield would be that the city not completely reject HLA compliance on all projects already partially in process (as currently proposed in the city's HLA motions/responses). Instead, Blumenfield requested that city departments review projects and said, "If we can fairly easily include traffic safety improvements, we should."

It now looks like the city will continue to sidestep making good on HLA until at least August, or until the public takes the city to court over missed opportunities that slip though StreetsLA's grip.

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