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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Westchester/Playa Neighborhood Council Approves Letter Asking for Lane Restoration

Standing room only inside.

Line waiting to go in.

Members of the council preparing to vote.

The Westchester/Playa Neighborhood Council in a specially called meeting voted 15/2/1 in favor of sending a prepared letter to Councilman Mike Bonin asking for the roads to be restored that were removed by the Playa del Rey “Safe Streets” road diet that was initiated a few months ago. An amendment to letter excluded restoration of Pershing Drive.

The eastbound lane of Culver Blvd was restored to two lanes in July. Vista del Mar will be restored to four lanes starting 21 August.

The meeting room was packed with standing room only. There was a line, guarded by the police, waiting to enter.

A statement was made that “Safe Streets” did not go thru the Westchester/Playa Neighborhood Council for vetting and such buffering and vetting was the purpose of the neighborhood councils. Many felt there was insufficient data to justify that lane removal would prevent accidents or be safer…”there just was no data to justify this.”

There was suppose to be 30-, 90-, 120-day reviews and already the 30 is behind. One said it sounded like the normal process for removal, other than the letter to the councilman, would result in the road diet staying for at least two years even if determined that it was not wanted or unnecessary.

A task force of 18 to 20 composed of half “for” and half “against“ the road diet has been formed to investigate and will report to the council. First meet will be Monday.

It was stated that already there have been more accidents encountered recently than without the diet in the same period. Mar Vista residents have reported the same fact for “Great Streets” on Venice Blvd. So streets being safe is questionable.

The speakers were many and varied with their opinions. There were two stacks of written comments–one for and one against. The two-minute verbal comments went from 7 pm to almost 10 pm before the vote. Several brought up lack of data needed to justify closing of the roads.

Only John Russo included extensive research regarding causes of the previous accidents and the lack of justification for safer, calming streets. He made the statement that “none of the accidents that had occurred could have been prevented by slowing the traffic.” Russo has been invited to present his data in the Venice Update. Justification for the road shrinkage was based on providing safer streets and preventing lawsuits such that have occurred. Russo showed that already there were two accidents in June.

It was stated that people had asked for lights in certain areas and crosswalks but never loss of lanes.

Business people spoke and it was disheartening for residents to hear their stories. All the business owners said their businesses were down. One man who ran the shoe store said he had had to lay off one person and was questioning whether he would be able to sustain the business for the rest of the year. It was the same story that the Mar Vista Neighborhood Council heard at their outreach meeting regarding “Great Streets.”

Those who spoke “for” said the environment was better. They had been given notice by the council office. They did not like speeding cars. Their kids could play now.

Countering those who said the environment was better because of slower cars, were those who said the pollution was greater for standing cars. Kids playing, people countered saying that kids should not be playing on those streets that were removed. They are not neighborhood streets. But now commuters divert thru the neighborhood streets where the kids do play creating an unsafe condition for kids and residents.

David Voss, a board member, summed it up for those against the road closures when he said “This is not Vision Zero; this is Zero Vision.”

Summary Conclusion to the letter:

CONCLUSION: There was no sudden need to close down lanes on Pershing and Culver. Indeed, as noted above, the City of Los Angeles identified that these streets are not the priority for attention. The irony is that some of the support for the Road Diet has been from those who want a vital thriving downtown Playa del Rey yet the changes made are having the immediate and opposite effect. The reversal of Vista del Mar lane closures addresses the concerns of the South Bay while leaving your own constituents adversely impacted. However, the cut-through traffic on residential streets because of lane reductions remains a significant and dangerous problem. There is an overwhelming groundswell of opposition to the PDR pilot project as expressed to the NCWP. There is simply no question that the majority of the local community does not like it as it stands and wants the lanes restored without delay. We are confident that you and your staff will respond to our questions and requests and facilitate other City agencies in being timely and responsive. More urgently, we hope that the flexibility you have already shown will be extended to reversing course and improving the planning, evaluation (both pre- and post-intervention), and proactive and transparent communication regarding the PDR Safe Streets initiative. The NCWP and your constituents look forward to collaborating with you in an alternate improved and comprehensive means of addressing safety, efficiency and accessibility other than the current pilot project reduced lanes.

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