Friday, October 28, 2016

Silver Lake residents seek peace and quiet behind a freeway soundwall

Newly built 2 Freeway soundwall in Echo Park

Newly built 2 Freeway soundwall in Echo Park

SILVER LAKE —  When Caltrans proposed building soundwalls along the south end of the 2 Freeway, agency officials were surprised to find that many Silver Lake residents didn’t want the walls, saying they would attract taggers, replace trees and look ugly.  So the agency scrapped the Silver Lake soundwall. But now, after an 1,800 foot-long soundwall was built across the freeway in Echo Park, it turns out that many in Silver Lake want a wall after all.

In fact, some Silver Lake residents say the freeway noise has gotten worse because traffic sound is now bouncing off the Echo Park wall and into their unprotected neighborhood.

“Since the sound wall was constructed, the noise outside and inside the house is much louder, particularly at certain times of day (like 5-8 pm) ” said Amy Heibel, who is one of about 30 residents who have signed a petition supporting a wall on the Silver Lake side of the freeway. “I could hear the traffic noise even through earplugs at night …. We put in noise-reducing dual pane windows in one of our windows, but that is expensive, has a limited effect, and it does nothing about the noise outside the house.”

Heibel moved to Silver Lake after a majority of residents surveyed by Caltrans about three years ago rejected the structure.  In contrast, on the other side of the freeway in Echo Park, the walls were supported by a majority of residents who were surveyed. But after talking to her Silver Lake neighbors and reviewing documents, Heibel says that a relatively small group of households, about 20, were invited to weigh in on the soundwall, and many of those did not live on such streets as Allesandro Way, Loma Vista Place and Lakeview Terrace that are immediately adjacent to the  freeway. Also, many in Silver Lake said they were not fully informed about how much more noise they would face with the construction of the sound wall on the other side of the freeway.

“Many say they would have regarded the issue differently and been a lot more adamant about a wall on our side,” Heibel said in an email. “Now that the wall on the east side has been built, the reality is very different from what the public process documents suggest it would be. We have less landscaping, more noise, more dust, and more visual pollution than before. That is not what the neighborhood expected.”

Peter Jones, a public affairs specialist at Caltrans, said that funding for a soundwall might be available in future construction planned for the 2 Freeway. But funds will have to be allocated and another survey of freeway-adjacent residents will have to be taken.

Heibel said neighbors are prepared to take legal action if no soundwall gets built.  “The increase in noise and visual pollution has a notable effect on property values, health and well-being in our neighborhood,” she said.

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  1. I wish there was another way around constructing sound barriers than building giant canvases for taggers

    • There is … paving the road with something like a recycled tire material would help even more than these ugly cement sound walls. I live right in front of this new wall on Allesandro and can tell you it really has made no different in noise level. These walls should be build from materials that will ABSORB the sound waves not reflect them. Also, are they going to take down that ugly chain link fence and plant fast growing vines as they promised?? They are talking too long to finish, just get it done already PETER JONES!!

  2. LomaVistaConsensus

    This is not a smart solution for noise, and I can’t imagine a sound wall will have any impact on air pollution. Many of the people complaining recently moved to this neighborhood, I’m not saying that discredits their desire for less freeway noise and less pollution in any way, but they could have, you know, NOT BOUGHT A HOUSE RIGHT NEXT TO THE FREEWAY.

  3. Have you looked at the Echo Park sound wall lately? It has indeed attracted a slew of tags, before it’s even completed.

    Replacing a natural green barrier with concrete doesn’t seem to have been the smartest of ideas. Better to have spent that money making the area around the 2 and Glendale Blvd safer and friendlier for pedestrians and bicyclists than currently planned.

    • LomaVistaConsensus

      I completely agree. No one wants a sound wall on the west side of the 2. It’s just the people interviewed in this article who feel strongly about it, and the other residents have not discussed legal action, that is a complete bluff.. A sound wall will do very little, if anything, to mitigate the traffic noise. It will be a huge eyesore that will waste a ton of money and won’t accomplish it’s intended goal . Dumbest idea for a wall 2nd only to Trump’s.

      • Hello LomaVistaConsensus — My husband and I live TWO houses from the 2, on the west side. (Silver Ridge Ave) We have not been invited to join your “consensus,” so I respectfully disagree with your assertion that “no one” wants a sound wall on the west side of the 2. Exactly which residents have you been asking? How many feet is your residence(s) from the 2? And what is the noise level at your home and in your backyard, compared to mine?

        When I bought here 10 years ago (yes, by the freeway), I wasn’t worried about my lungs (for those of you in the chain suggesting that I should have bought somewhere else) because it was the little-used 2, not the 5 or the 405. I didn’t have any infants or small children, I was in a position where I needed to buy, I had a budget I needed to stick to, and the noise was NOTHING like it is now. Nor was the congestion on Glendale Blvd — as everyone knows, Silver Lake is now the hip place to live, so all of the traffic has increased.

        Unfortunately, the freeway noise from the 2 has increased dramatically in the past 10 years — and particularly since the sound wall has been added on the east side and reflects the noise back to us. There are sound walls all over this city — why can’t there be one here? And why can’t we plant the lovely “natural green barrier” in front of it to prevent graffiti? Because frankly, a sound wall would reduce the noise level at our home dramatically, and despite whoever is claiming there is some sort of consensus and that no one on this side wants a wall, we would greatly appreciate that.

  4. As stated above, repaving the freeway with a rubberized surface would be a much less expensive and more effective way to reduce noise.

    • I doubt it cuz of all the assholes with loud exhausts on their rides and choppers. I hate those Dbags. Primative shit like “Look at me, look how loud I can get.”

  5. I lived in silver lake and echo park for 30 plus years, everything was fine, I get the gangs were a problem, now the area has to deal with hipsters who are just as bad, but the problem is what’s not broke don’t fix, because people who complain about an area they just moved into cause problems. Complain, complain

    • “I get the gangs were a problem, now the area has to deal with hipsters who are just as bad,”

      Yep just last night 3 people were stabbed by a guy in tight jeans and an ironic mustache. Don’t get me started on the Intelligensia vs. Woodcat rivalry drive-bys.

      Said no one ever.

  6. Take paradise put up a parking lot.
    Trees create oxagen. WHY DID YOU MOVE NEXT TO THE FREEWAY?

  7. Living mere spitting distance from the freeway, I agree with the above comments. It’s hideous, a blank canvas for tagging and does not absorb any noise but reflects it. Yes to more trees and a sound absorbing road surface.

  8. I say we get Caltrans to force hipsters to line up, shoulder to shoulder, along the west side of the 2, for 24 hours a day. They can rotate every 8 hours. They would absorb a LOT of sound with those heinous beards and cheesey knits. Plus we all know that hipsters are the source of all that is bad in the world. Let them do something good for a change.

  9. The neighbors of Allesandro Way and the surrounding area have every right to respond to the current situation regarding the sound wall. The noise has increased considerably and the view of the freeway, plus the tagging on the new wall is an eyesore. The resent clearing by Caltans of the established trees and shrubs that helped block the view of the freeway and filtered sound was insult to injury.
    I have lived in the area since 1998, and the level of noise has never been this bad, the traffic noise from the freeway has increased two-fold because of the sound bounced of the new wall. Being a resident since 1998 I was surprised to learn that a small population of residence had made this decision, as I was never included and I live 4 houses away from Allesandro Way.
    The situation needs to be remedied, if legal action is required to get Caltrans to refund the project, I whole heartily
    support that action.

    • Same thing happened to where I am in EP. Actually a single neighbor, because leaves were getting on his precious low-rider collection, managed to convince Cal Trans to cut all the trees bordering the wall of the freeway. Now it’s twice as loud and we have a lovely view of the 101. Thanks neighbor!

    • LomaVistaConsensus

      Hi Leesa, I’m not sure which part of Alessandro Way you live on, but the residents of Loma Vista have been meeting about this sound wall almost weekly, and 100% of us think that putting up a wall on our side of the freeway is not a good solution. The residents of Loma Vista Pl are unanimously AGAINST a sound wall, and are seeking a more thoughtful, rational., and ultimately effective solution to the noise issue.

      • Hi Loma Vista Consensus-

        I live on Loma Vista Place, and I’m not a part of your consensus, nor I guess invited to the numerous meetings you’ve had, In fact I don’t think we have ever met.

        Tell me what are your thoughtful, rational and effective solutions? And have you experienced the increase of sound since the wall was built?

        Please, I’m interested in dialogue not name calling or angry responses.

        Thank you

      • I also live on the 2200-2300 block of Loma Vista Pl. I know all the residents except for a few household who do not come to our bock meetings. I would like to know who is in this “Loma Vista Consensus” group so we can invite them to our next meeting so we all can meet and discuss this issue.

      • Im one of the new guys that just moved here everyone complains about. The reason I bought the house on Loma vista right by the freeway is because the noise was minimal when I went to visit the home 4 times before making my offer. We even commented how quiet it was. I am now one of the people who sleep with earplugs on every night. I’m a hit hurt I wasn’t invited to the Loma vista consensus meetings…as far as I knew most focus was for a wall now that echo park got theirs.

      • What’s your plan then LomaVistaConsensus? I’m not hearing any solutions from you. It’s noisy as hell on the North side of the 2 freeway thanks to the wall that was built on the South side. I say, build the wall on both sides so the noise stops for all of us or at the very least we’re both experiencing the same amount of noise. Then plant more trees on the opposite sides of the wall (inside the freeway next to the wall and outside too) to help #1 deafen the noise and #2, pretty things up (graffiti hider).

        . . . . . . . . . . . . . trees
        ——————– wall
        . . . . . . . . . . . . . . trees

  10. Ironically, the sound here on the eastside of the 2 has not improved at all. I live in a spot that should reap the benefits of the sound wall – just off Whitmore and Allesandro – however the highway sound has not been lessened by the addition of the sound wall.

    The South bound side of the 2 sits higher than than the North bound – so for the wall to really do any good for this neighborhood it needs to be about 20 feet tall, rather than the 10-12 it is. Added to that, there are hills sloping up away from the 2 on both sides – so even though we’re only about 200m from the highway, we can see directly over the wall. I don’t know what engineer came up with this plan, but it’s a complete failure.

  11. Sound walls are notoriously ineffective, this is well documented. On top of that the people complaining live uphill and out of range of any prospective wall’s usefulness. So should we cut down all the trees on that side of the highway for the strip of buildings directly adjacent? If the wall is at the highway level half of those structures wouldn’t even benefit due to the slope. Let’s not waste any more money on this. I propose ripping down the wall they just put up, that might make everyone happy and also waste even more money to boot. Hooray!!

  12. Sadly what I think it boils down to is this … CalTrans got federal funding for a specific project … a sound wall. Therefore they want to spend the money in order to pay themselves, but it has to be a wall, there can be no thinking outside the box. Bureaucracy at work!!

  13. What happened to the accessible sidewalk we were promised by CalTrans here?

  14. Tear down the useless 2. Problem solved.

  15. I used to live right next to a freeway in LA. After a while it just starts to sound like waves crashing in the ocean. Free meditation. Roll with it. Namaste. ; )

  16. Anti-genification

    Worried about the noise? Worry about your health, living across from that FWY. Plenty of break dust and pollution for all.
    I’m sure these peace loving hipsters have enough money to buy some paint, roll up their sleeves and have cover up parties. Don’t forget the IPA

  17. Carsmakepeoplestupid

    Get rid of the 2. It will never be completed and junction with the 101 as planned. Replace it with a smaller tree-lined boulevard with lush park space on either side.The age of the freeway is over.

  18. I have a petition with 30 signatures on it of people on Loma Vista Place and the surrounding area that are directly impacted by the major increase in freeway noise. This isn’t an issue of gentrification or privilege – the freeway noise was bearable, and then with the construction of the wall on the other side, it suddenly wasn’t. Anyone who thinks we’re whining needs to come over and listen for themselves. We are asking Caltrans to open the matter back up because the public process was flawed and didn’t get nearly enough participation – plus, no matter what the original decision was, the circumstances have changed: the noise is exponentially worse.

    If you’d like to sign the petition, email me at [email protected] and I’ll provide a link.

  19. Also, if you’re interested in having an actual dialogue about what should happen in our community, use your real name. I’m not going to take anyone seriously who hides behind an alias like “LomaVistaConsensus.”

  20. Dorothy Stefanski

    Aside from the increased noise, this stretch of the 2 Freeway is a health hazard with its constant congestion because there is simply no room for a freeway full of cars to exit onto Glendale Blvd., period. Add to this the gridlock to the south at the intersection of Alvarado and Glendale and you are looking at a totally nonfunctional roadway design that results in massive amounts of exhaust being spewed from idling vehicles for several hours during peak traffic times every day. I would suggest sound mitigation with absorbent materials while a plan is being formulated to divert traffic to earlier exits from the 2 while closing or restricting traffic access to this last section of the 2 south of the 5 freeway.

    • My family moved to Allesandro Way two years ago, after the vote had been taken not to construct the Silver Lake wall. Noise pollution from the 2 Freeway has increased substantially since the building of the Echo Park wall. I certainly support completing a similar project on the Silver Lake side, while maintaining greenscape around the wall. I also like the idea of a rubberized ground surface to reduce freeway noise.

      Nevertheless, I agree with Dorothy that none of these ideas addresses the bigger issue of freeway congestion abutting a beautiful and densely populated neighborhood. It seems nonsensical to me that the freeway terminus needs 6 lanes. The road should be narrowed after connection with the 5 Freeway, and a plan should be formed to disperse traffic away from emptying onto Glendale Ave at 50 mph. A bigger solution to this congested area needs to be considered, especially as neighborhood traffic increases as a consequence of newly constructed housing in the area and the new Whole Foods on Glendale.

  21. How about finally finishing the 210 to take some of the traffic off the 5? Not a hip solution, but sure is practical.

  22. That looks like the echo park side of the freeway

  23. I, too, am a resident of Loma Vista Place on the west side of the 2 freeway. When I moved in last year, the freeway noise was tolerable but since the sound wall on the east side of the 2 went up, the noise is A LOT louder. And now that they’ve cut down the trees along the west side of the 2, it’s also incredibly visible. I have neither heard of nor been invited to the meetings that LomaVistaConsensus speaks of — but please, LVC, include me and my neighbors from here out). I would love a solution that works – if the sound wall has not helped the east side noise pollution as CJD has noted, then I’d be open to the rubberized road pavement that SquiggleySpooch wrote about. But something needs to be done.

  24. I went to do graffiti on this wall. Something that looked like Banksy so other white people would approve of it and talk about it like they weren’t dilettantes. But a new housewife with a really expensive stroller offered me cookies instead.

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