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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Westside Traffic Battle

The issue of turning Pico and Olympic Boulevards into traffic superhighways is heating up; perhaps creating one of many issues that Zev Yaroslavsky could pin a Mayoral run on. Steve Hymon disects whether streets are for moving traffic like pipes are for moving water or if they're part of the community and part of creating a healthy local neighborhood.

As Mayor Villaraigosa plans to implement his program of one way alternating traffic on the two thoroughfares, Councilmen Herb Wesson and Bill Rosendahl have removed their Districts from the plan as well as the City of Beverly Hills. Some wonder if this is yet another example of the Mayor getting a partial victory in yet another battle; as he did with his LAUSD takeover attempt; one that won't produce any results. At the same time, the Greater West LA Chamber of Commerce and various community groups are gearing up to fight the plan.

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

SOME streets should be for moving traffic along more quickly, others not. Beverly Hills did NOT remove itself from the plan -- they've had no parking during rush hours on Pico and Olympic all along, so this was a matter of adding an extra hour. Only when Wesson and Rosendahl (who'd said he backed the plan earlier and was in a photo op announcing it) had second thoughts, listening to the whiners who have opposed every development for the past 30 years (from the subway to every single development on the westside) did the agreement start to unravel.

Fact is, Rosendahl is a wimp who blows with the wind, Wesson has no vision and his part of Pico/Fairfax intersection is the worst tangle on the street, and so the same whiners who want a traffic fix NOW but oppose all solutions, have stalled things once again. They even claim they're worried about the costs, but demand a much more expensive EIR before the plan is instituted for a 3-month trial.

They've been at many meetings over 18 months since Zev proposed his more radical Pico-Olympic total one-way, opposed every suggestion, but now suddenly persuaded Rosendahl they'd never been consulted. The intertia of fools. (And Zev, who proposed the whole thing in its initial radical form, would have to be a fool as well as a hypocrite to jump ahead of this caboose, too.)

February 25, 2008 11:41 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

My advice to Villar & Co. is...DON'T MESS WITH THE WESTSIDE!!!

We turned a blind eye to the shennanigans going on downtown with the Grand Ave. project and LA Live...because it didn't affect us! In fact, it kept you out of our hair!

But you have declared war on the Westside, and you will be run out of our town!

We know what your diabolical plan is...put the neighborhood retailers out of business so that you can pull a Grand Ave on the Westside...not in your lifetime, Villar!

We know all about your mixed use crap and we will have NOTHING to do with it. The city is bankrupt now and Villar is running is skinny legs off trying to get more money out of us. In fact, they grabbed the Dubai Sovereign Wealth Fund for 75M for the Grand Ave project!

GET RID OF ALL THE MEXICANS IN CITY HALL....before it's too late!

February 26, 2008 8:11 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This is a political ploy by the Mayor and Jack Weiss. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Start with the advertised "benefits" assuming that there are any.

Villarweiss has said that there will be a 7 minute benefit along the plan route. The problem? This is no longer the case – even assuming the benefits were true. (ALL benefits were estimated using ONLY TWO DAYS worth of data from a few hours each day. The “test” occurred ONLY between Centinela and Century Park East.)

The eastern (Wesson) and western (Rosendahl) parts of the plan are unlikely to be implemented.

Now, the City of Beverly Hills has put out a press release which states “The City of Beverly Hills has taken no formal or informal action on Mayor Villaraigosa’s ‘Olympic West/Pico East’ proposal,” stated Mayor Jimmy Delshad. Furthermore, the City of Los Angeles cannot proceed with changes to roadways within Beverly Hills without the City’s concurrence. The City of Beverly Hills is working closely with the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Transportation staff to evaluate ramifications of the proposal. The City has already received numerous expressions of concern from residents and business people. "

There goes the middle of the plan. So, what are the best-case benefits now? Zip. Yet, the Mayor wishes to disregard the wishes of two councilmembers and Beverly Hills and push it forward.

Next, just the way that Villarweiss phrased the benefits (7 minute benefit) show that they are willing to sacrifice local small business for their big developer friends and regional traffic.

We are already facing a loss of business. Adding parking problems will only hurt us. Making it more difficult for people to get to our businesses will only make it worse. Forcing our customers into illegally parking in the neighborhoods will only put us at odds with our best customers – our neighbors.

With the benefit down to ZERO and the risk of putting hundreds of small businesses in peril, why continue? What about the tax revenue generated by those small businesses? What about the wages they pay and the thousands of employees who work at those businesses? (Some have suggested that the Mayor and Weiss WANT to force small businesses out so that Pico can be re-developed and built up. They see Pico as a development opportunity, not as hundreds of small businesses)

Villarweiss also completely fail to address the fiscal irresponsibility which the plan represents. They have stated a budget for implementation but have NOT included a budget for all of the mitigations they have promised since they have NO IDEA what is going to happen. (DOT stated "Directional signal operation and preferential directional flow are experimental, have not been tried elsewhere in the nation and might have unanticipated impacts.")

Remember that the fund for mitigating unexpected impacts both during and after the Santa Monica Blvd project was $400K/mile. The Pico/Olympic plan covers 15 miles of just Pico/Olympic. That does not include the “crossover” streets.

At a time when Villarweiss have pushed Prop S on us because we are in financial peril, creating an unfunded mandate is irresponsible at best.

A key weakness of the plan is its reliance on north/south "crossover" streets. This means that streets such as Sepulveda and Westwood will have to handle MORE traffic that needs to cross over from Pico to Olympic to go east or west. The problem? Westwood and Sepulveda are ALREADY jammed. Worse, DOT has admitted that they did NOT EVEN STUDY possible impacts on businesses on the north/south streets.

Another indication on how silly this plan really is: The plan calls for Century City drivers to go down to Centinela to get on the 10 west and to Crenshaw or La Brea to get on the 10 east.

This plan flies in the face of the concepts being pushed by Planning for walkable, pedestrian-based neighborhoods. The Jewish community along Pico will be harmed by this plan. The religious schools along Pico will be harmed by this plan. The livelihoods of small businesses and their employees will be harmed by this plan.

Councilman Rosendahl has stated: “When it comes to fighting traffic gridlock, we need a coordinated, comprehensive strategy that addresses transportation issues in specific communities. We can no longer have a piecemeal approach to traffic congestion.”

Councilwoman Greuel stated: “We are never going to solve our transportation crisis with a piecemeal solution. During the last 20 years, the region’s transportation leadership has failed Angelenos by focusing on short-term political gains rather than long-term investments. We must have a comprehensive citywide vision and invest in long-term planning.”

Even Councilman Weiss, a supporter of the Mayor’s plan, stated “I was shocked to learn that Los Angeles – the most congested City in America – has no concrete plan for reducing traffic. We are never going to solve our traffic crisis with piecemeal solutions.”

Of course, they are correct. The Pico/Olympic plan represents, by DOTs own admission, a plan that has not been integrated into a comprehensive strategy. Its impacts on future light rail access, north/south traffic and local trip length remain, by DOT’s own admission, unstudied. The current Pico/Olympic plan is a politically expedient answer for two people running for office. It is not a real answer.

Does the business community want a study of the real impacts and benefits of this truly stupid plan before their businesses are sacrificed for the political aspirations of Villarweiss? You bet.

February 26, 2008 9:44 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

These last two "arguments" against rely heavily on conspiracy theories that "Villarweiss" really want to put large developments along this stretch of Pico as some sort of ulterior motive, instead of doing just what the plan says, moving traffic along Pico and Olympic faster, and keeping it out of side streets. When these streets are clogged is when drivers are prompted to look for relief on the side streets.

Since Zev suggested the idea first, with his more radical total one-way plan, is he on on the secret plot to turn Pico into a Grand Avenue?

Or is that something that was just added s a secret plot by Mexicans?

Beverly Hills was on board with the plan, and Mayor Delshad in the photo op annnouncing it back in November, along with Rosendahl, but now that Rosendahl is a wimp who's not sure what to do -- even though his stretch of Pico has off-street parking and can only benefit -- and Wesson apparently likes the low-rent feel of his tangle at Pico/Fairfax (where nobody walks anyway, it's a dangerous intersection for cars and you'd have to be crazy to walk there).

These comments just show how intent the opponents are to come with wild allegations, misrepresent facts and do anything they can do avoid any improvements to traffic flow, while screaming for traffic relief. These same homeowners groups got Zev to block the subway decades ago and were so afraid of the Expo line coming along this corridor, that it's now too far south to serve the westside, and we're hustling to come up with more funds for the subway that should have been built there in the first place.

And now since even Zev is onto their wiles, they've come up with conspiracy theories involving bid developers and Mexicans taking over the westside. Just really sad.

February 26, 2008 1:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


And yet you do not offer one shred of data or evidence to refute the concerns raised...

You also ignore the fact that its small business that is leading the fight against the plan.


February 26, 2008 2:40 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

These posts are longer than anything ZD ever dreamed up.

But, at least they are cogent and have no shrill caps and exclamation marks.

February 26, 2008 5:57 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

2:42: You try to drag people down by throwing out endless supposed obstacles, hoping to tie up the matter until intertia sets in and nothing ever gets done, then you go back to complaining about traffic.

This is how you people behaved over 18 months of meetings, now you're starting again with Rosendahl, who's indecisiveness and fear of making anyone mad in the interest of a vision or greater good, is too easy to take advantage of. To the detriment of the city as a whole.

By doing this with every solution for decades, including the subway and Expo line, your homeowner groups have left a hugely negative legacy to this city already.

Polls showed the majority of people support going ahead with the plan, that it's the best option available RIGHT NOW, and if it doesn't work, Villar and Weiss and DOT have said they'll tweak it to adapt. But you don't want anything to be done ever so these are just obstructionist tactics -- whatever one says, you'll come back with more nitty- picky objections. You people have been an obstructionist force for decades and we're all fed up.

February 26, 2008 11:34 PM  

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