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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Hanna Has Motion He Feels Will Work for All with the “Great Streets” Project

By Elliot Hanna, Community Director of Mar Vista Community Council 

We all know that the Venice Blvd “Great Streets” implementation has polarized our community like nothing we’ve seen in quite some time. Some groups want things restored to the way they were. Other groups like the new implementation the way it is and don’t want any changes at all. In my opinion, neither position is tenable.

Let me state clearly that I support the goals of reducing pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and serious injuries. I believe that everyone will agree with that. To think otherwise violates basic human decency. The disagreement is not about the goal but the implementation.

Many people will say that at the July 11th MVCC meeting, people who attended were split roughly fifty-fifty between supporting and opposing the implementation. They’ll also tell you that the e-mail received was split roughly the same way. I don’t dispute that but respectfully suggest that it isn’t a statistically valid random sampling. Based on my talking to people on all sides of the issue including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, business owners, supporters, and opponents, I believe the split to be more on the order of two to one opposed though the only way to be certain is to commission a scientific survey on the issue using statistically valid methods, which I support. That said, there are ways for us to come together to make this a win-win situation for everyone. First, let’s list the features of the implementation that don’t seem to be particularly controversial:

1.   Four new crosswalks

2.   Community art installations

3.   New trees

4.   Thirteen new trash and recycling receptacles

5.   Weekly overnight street sweeping

6.   A New bus shelter with wi-fi

7.   Streetlight banners

8.   Sidewalk upgrades

9.   Fourteen new bike racks

10.  A Solar-powered soofa bench

No one that I’m aware of – certainly not I – is suggesting we undo any of that. The major controversy is the elimination of the third lane of traffic in each direction and the unintended consequences it’s caused.

LADOT’s statistics regarding speed vs. potential for death or serious injury are correct. It’s a fairly simple law of physics. Furthermore, I agree that Venice Blvd. is not a freeway and people should not be driving on it as though it is. However, speed and throughput are two separate things and both must be considered. Unfortunately, the statistics I’ve seen only address the former.

One day, there may be sufficient options for travel along or near Venice Blvd that make it unnecessary to have three lanes of traffic in each direction. Perhaps, those options will include a rail line or something similar. I look forward to that but that day is not today. For most people, automobile travel is still their only option.

It’s also important to understand that a “Great Street” requires thriving businesses. As I alluded to earlier, I spoke with employees or owners of various small businesses and most reported a noticeable downturn in business since Venice Blvd was reconfigured. That’s simply not sustainable.

That’s why the motion I’m offering at the September 12th MVCC meeting is written as it is. I encourage you to read it. It’s Item 13.n on the September 12th agenda which can be found at http://www.marvista.org/docs/34485419-9138.pdf. I believe that we can restore the third lanes, restore the reasonable flow of traffic, control speeds, protect pedestrians, and protect bicyclists. It simply requires the community to come together with officials from LADOT to devise a better implementation. My motion is not designed to create winners and losers. It’s designed for everyone to win something.

So, I hope we can all come together to make Mar Vista better for all of us. I respectfully ask that you consider supporting my motion.


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