CYPRESS PARK -- The sounds of screeching tires and crashing cars are not unusual on Cypress Avenue and Avenue 28. Speeding cars have crashed into parked vehicles, fences and light posts, say residents. That has made some locals nervous to even stroll down the sidewalks.
There have been so many crashes on these and other Cypress Park streets that many residents have gotten involved in efforts to improve safety.
Long-time resident Elsa Flores felt something had to be done, so she has spent the past several years reaching out to city officials, attending meetings and circulating petitions. She’s not just worried about the safety of her neighbors, but the children walking to schools on Cypress Avenue—Nightingale Middle School and Divine Savior School.
“There has been at least a dozen or more accidents on our streets due to speed” since 2017, said Flores. “In the last year and a half, I've acquired more than 300 signatures for a petition … to try to help make our streets safer.”
Leonel Angulo purchased a home in Cypress Park more than six years ago and immediately noticed the traffic problems. The second day after getting his house keys he witnesses a crash.
“A car was turning on to Gay and ran into the street sign, knocking it down. The traffic on Cypress Avenue has always been an issue, but I believe it's gotten worse over the past three years,” he said.
Since then, Angulo—who lives off Gay Street— has seen around 15 crashes around the neighborhood.
Martha Dahlquist avoids street parking at all costs after her car got hit while parked on Cypress Avenue. The sounds of screeching tires is a daily occurrence, she said.
“The signs are not clear and drivers race down the street going at speeds of 50 mph,” said Dahlquist.
One trouble spot say residents is a two-block stretch of Cypress Avenue that turns into a one-way street between Pepper Avenue and Idell Street.
Ash Kramer—a member of the Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council— said she came close to being hit by a car when attempting to make a left onto Cypress Avenue when the approaching vehicle didn’t stop at the light.
“The problem is bad all down Cypress but particularly after the one-way spot. I'd love to see at least another traffic light and some stop signs in there,” said Kramer.
Brad Holt, a former member of the council, says that hundreds of Cypress Park residents have expressed concern. But he feels the city hasn’t been as responsive as it could be.
“The city is supposed to be doing studies but we've never gotten any concrete answers other than what they can't do,” Holt said. “Whether it be reducing two lanes down to one lane or adding stop signs to temper the traffic - we're open to anything because it's just a matter of time before there's a fatality.”
Officials from the LAPD, the Department of Transportation and Councilman Gil Cedillo’s office met several times last summer with residents over the traffic safety issue. And there has been some progress:
- Last July an LAPD officer told Flores in an email that motorcycle officers had been working “very hard” on Cypress to cite drivers for speeding. They issued 40 tickets in one day alone.
- In January, LADOT officials said the department would be installing road reflectors and were also surveying both Idell and Gay streets to see if they would quality for speed humps to slow traffic.
- The speed limit on Avenue 28 speed limit was increased to 30 MPH. While that may seem counter productive, that actually allows police to more easily cite motorists for speeding.
- Metro mandated that its bus drivers must abide by a 15 mph speed limit on Cypress Avenue and Avenue 28 near the agency’s maintenance yard. “The bus drivers have been very cooperative and we are thankful for that. They always slow down now,” added Flores.
But some in Cypress Park are not optimistic about the changes and say more needs to be done.
“They are aware of and have been aware of this issue since we arrived here,” said Mike Gonzalez, whose Avenue 28 frame shop has been hit by vehicles more than once. “I have taken to tag our councilmember in photos that we post in hopes that we get some sort of response.”