Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mayor Orders Implementation of Pico-Olympic Plan Despite Opposition

As posted today in the LA Times, Mayor Villaraigosa has ordered transportation officials to implement "mostly" one-way traffic flows on Pico and Olympic Boulevards. This is achieved by removing one parking lane during rush hour in the designated direction as well as adding new striping. Area residents, councilmembers and other officials have expressed concerns over how pedestrian-unfriendly the design is, and several councilmembers have threatened to remove their districts from the proposal. At this point, Villaraigosa is calling for implementation without consulting city planners. Ouch.

Some choice quotations from the article:

It's unfortunate that the planning department is not going to be engaged. Planning and transportation should be joined at the hip. . . . You just don't bowl over the community like that. You have to appreciate who's there. It's disrespectful to my constituents, and it's an insult to my constituents.
-Bill Rosendahl

We were promised answers to our questions. We have not gotten those answers. There has been no meaningful input, and now the plan is happening anyway.
-Mike Eveloff, President of Tract 7260

So what do I think? First of all, I firmly believe that any action taken on Pico/Olympic should first involve input by transportation planners. There is no excuse for this to be railroaded to the point that councilmembers are wanting to bail out.

Secondly, the distance between Pico and Olympic in many parts of the route raise concerns on the viability of these two streets to be a legitimate freeway-alternate corridor. Residents on side streets most likely will see an influx of cut-through traffic.

Thirdly, the elimination of streetside parking to accomodate more auto traffic just demonstrates Los Angeles' lack of cohesion. Some parts of the city government have pedestrian-friendly initiatives, but Mayor Villaraigosa seems content to further the auto-centric status quo.

Finally, I think this plan is that it is a stinker and will lead to far more problems than it solves. Improving the signal timing or using lane control to add a reversible lane down the center are all much better alternatives than eliminating parking to create a virtual freeway. Business will drop on Olympic and Pico, but unlike the merchant in the article, I don't think it will be because of a lack of street parking, but rather because no one wants to walk alongside a virtual freeway.

More importantly, what do YOU think?

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