By BARRY LANK
Traffic and safety are the focus this week as part of The Eastsider’s coverage of the city council races in Districts 1 and 13. We asked the candidates running in the March 7 primary to respond to the following:“On any list of cities with the worst traffic in America, L.A. always seems to land at or near the top. Beyond that, news sources have also been reporting notably high numbers of hit-and-runs for years now in Los Angeles, and some of our readers have left comments asking how the candidates might make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. What’s your plan for reducing traffic congestion and improving safety? As an example, do you favor ‘road diets’ such as the one placed on Rowena Avenue is Silver Lake?”
Here are the answers we received:
Council District 1 includes all or portions of Angeleno Heights, Cypress Park, Echo Park, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights and Mount Washington
Some of the deadliest intersections in Los Angeles are right here in the 1st District.
Our current council leader has misspent scarce street safety dollars on marquee projects that do not deliver the kind of comprehensive transportation planning reform Los Angeles needs. In the 1st District, Vision Zero LA is a broken promise to stack with all the rest.
In contrast, I have spent the past decade organizing, researching, and (in some cases) protesting for safe streets.
Transit system user experience requires special attention. Sidewalks and curb ramps around bus stops and schools need repairs first. Bus stops need benches, trashcans, and shelter. Our train stations must have clean and accessible public bathrooms.
The 1st District should have bicycle superhighways that connect the San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley with Downtown L.A., and Pico Union and MacArthur Park with Mid-City and Downtown. Cynical political games have prevented these connections from being made.
I support road diets because the Federal Highway Administration has proven that properly implemented road diets can make a street safer for all road users without compromising the travel times of car drivers.
Going door-to-door for months now, I can verify that people in this district are hungry for new leadership and for safer streets. You can expect both if I am elected.
Council District 13 includes all or portions of Atwater Village, Echo Park, Elysian Heights, Elysian Valley and Silver Lake
Mitch O’Farrell (Incumbent)
During my first term in office, we completed four streetscape projects in the 13th District, and a fifth one will break ground this spring. These enhancements make it safer for families walking to school, create opportunities for more bike lanes, and beautify our neighborhoods.
Measure M provides a wonderful opportunity to ease congestion on our streets. This voter-approved half-cent county sales tax increase will generate millions of dollars each year, and can create more DASH routes connecting residents with the six Metro rail stops in CD13. These monies can also provide additional pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements.
Mobility 2035 sets forth an excellent initial framework for us to transform our transportation system in Los Angeles. While Los Angeles will always have automobiles (and hopefully we can incentivize electric cars), we need to design our streets around – and focused on – people. We must bring Mobility 2035 to the constituents in each neighborhood of CD13 so that the community has direct input in how we implement the plan. This will include new kinds of electric, public transportation, protected bike lanes and safe pedestrian lanes. With this focus will also come more public spaces, parklets and greenery, bringing more vibrancy to our already awesomely rich and diverse district.
Los Angeles can become a more walkable, public transit-friendly city by incentivizing the use of alternatives modes of transportation, not by punishing those who rely on vehicles. Lack of parking only causes more traffic congestion and CO2 emissions. The approach should be the carrot of higher efficiency and lowered cost, not the stick of congestion and high prices.
This means a major focus of transportation planning should be investment in the built environment: side-walk scaping and improved lighting. It should also include safe bicycle lanes.
While cars pose a significant public safety hazard to pedestrians and bicyclists, and the long-term goal is to reduce car dependency, the current solution is in safety initiatives such as Vision Zero.
Finally, to make transit more attractive, headways and fares should be reduced.
As City Councilmember, I will champion the expansion of all transportation systems (i.e., bus, rail, carpool, bicycle and pedestrian). The first thing is to reduce L.A. city traffic and improve related road safety. I will make use of available funds (i.e., Measure M) to conduct area impact studies that look at each area uniquely to measure the practicality of any proposed improvement changes. These studies will look at the pros and cons with emphasis on public safety, sustainability, and measurable favorable outcomes, and must include necessary road/street maintenance and improvements to bicycle and pedestrian connections. I will not support any mobility improvement plan that does not submit itself to the above pre-planning conditions. This process will ensure that only successful projects get implemented and no bad “road diets” are placed in communities. Any proposed change under my leadership will be done over time, in gradual steps to ensure the public’s support and overcome people’s natural resistance to change. Lastly, I will work to ensure that our transportation systems are reliable and above all people friendly.
Under the incumbent the conditions of the streets have continued to decline while traffic and parking problems have increased as a result of large developments that he has approved. Take the stretch of Hollywood Blvd. from Normandy to where it merges into Sunset through to Sunset Junction. Three purposed mega projects are planned along that stretch and supported by the incumbent — and are proposed to come on line at almost the same time.
Public transportation is key and would need to start with expanding bus lines through the number of buses and their frequency. We also need to build multi-level green orientated parking structures similar to Culver City, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. The parking should also be made accessible for a cost to residential buildings.
I support protected bike lanes, but the proposed lane for Sunset Blvd. would end up removing a badly needed traffic lane. A better solution is to take another street and make it into a bike thoroughfare and promenade – or to make certain large streets one way without parking.
Lastly, the ‘road diet’ at Rowena really doesn’t succeed at doing more than slowing traffic and discouraging people from taking that route. As with all diets, it seems to suggest there will be binging elsewhere and possibly another time.
- Where do the City Council candidates stand on development?
- City Council candidates offer ideas and plans to deal with homelessness
- Got a story, tip, question or photo to share? Submit it here
- The City of Los Angeles will hold a primary election on Tuesday, March 7
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