What the Venice Blvd Traffic Uproar Means: ‘We Need to Do Our Jobs’

LOS ANGELES

FIRST PERSON REPORT--The Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) did its job Tuesday night, and had the dubious distinction of making it into the LA news, talk radio, and other media sources. Traffic changes were the hot-button subject and new MVCC Chair Sarah Auerswald did a first-rate job of making sure everyone could talk during public comment, despite letting everyone know we had to be out by 10pm from our meeting site. 

 

And then we voted. 

The community/opposition plan to restore the three lanes to Venice Blvd. immediately was voted down 8-3 (I was one of those three votes), but another motion that I co-sponsored with MVCC Vice-Chair Sherri Akers to continue and study the data from the Venice Blvd. reconfiguration for six months passed with near-unanimity. 

Venice Blvd. needs reconfiguration to protect bicyclists, pedestrians, AND motorists, and promote their rights and mobility, and to create a Downtown Mar Vista, but it's NOT National Blvd., a more residential, sleepy, Main Street-type thoroughfare.  Venice Blvd. is a secondary highway, so protected bicycle lanes are important but not so easy to figure out and implement. 

Other relevant motions passed that night, after the brouhaha and the angry crowds left, included a companion motion that Transportation Committee Co-Chair and Great Streets Committee Chair Michelle Krupkin and I introduced to ensure comprehensive and proper data gathering for Venice Blvd. reconfiguration (somewhat of a companion motion to the aforementioned passed motion). 

Furthermore, we passed a motion supporting bus/transit shelters at National/Sepulveda and Venice/Centinela for protection from the elements and to support shelters with LED lighting/announcements of upcoming buses.   

It is my hope that the MVCC becomes the first L.A. City neighborhood council with bus shelters at all major bus stops, and I suspect my hope is shared by many in the MVCC. 

The MVCC also passed motions to get an update on the malfunctioning stormwater treatment system at Mar Vista Park (the state wants its $4-5 million back from the City...not good) and a proper study to determine a City-supported parking policy to reflect 21st century parking needs (motion from Holly Tilson). 

I also passed out this piece, and I'm sticking with these sentiments:  WE NEED TO DO OUR JOBS  

We Need To Do Our Jobs 

(Ken Alpern, MVCC Transportation/infrastructure Committee Co-Chair) 

The Venice Blvd. issue will not go away, and neither will other related issues, such as intrastructure, mobility, environment, traffic, and planning.   The MVCC, its committees, and its Board of Directors has fought for the Expo Line and for traffic impacts from overdevelopment for many years.  We’ve had a history of doing our jobs rather well, and we need to continue them: 

If we don’t realize that Venice Blvd. has always been a secondary highway, akin to a freeway, then we’re not doing our jobs.

If we don’t realize that Venice Blvd. is very different from National Blvd. in its traffic capacity and purposing for car/bike/bus flow,  then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we don’t adhere to the original “Downtown Mar Vista” concept of the MVCC, with Mar Vista being a place to go to and not just go through, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we don’t protect the safety of bicyclists, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we don’t value the mobility of car motorists, and their safety as well, on this major highway, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we don’t create sufficient parking to access Mar Vista, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we don’t propose already-dedicated City funds (currently being diverted to the General Fund) for parking structures to serve our commercial corridor, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we don’t partner with a developer to create a development with a large parking structure to potentially eliminate the need for a parking lane, and enhance access to Downtown Mar Vista, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we don’t recognize that traffic flow during the morning and evening rush hours, versus mid-day and late evening portions of the day, creates two entirely different mobility scenarios on Venice Blvd., then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we’re not considering alternative (and safe) routes for bicyclists during rush hour, and to further the intent of a Backbone Bikeway Network, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we’re not distinguishing and recognizing the value and necessity of Type I and II Bikeways, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we ignore the financial and/or environmental and/or quality of life impacts of the greater Westside by significantly impacting car mobility on a major highway, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we don’t encourage Rapid Bus access to and through Mar Vista for an “Expo Line to the Beach” bus route, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we don’t establish a safe pedestrian/bicycle access to local restaurants, and search for new ways to encourage both short-term and long-term bicycle routes, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

If we let ANYONE, including ourselves, forget that Venice Blvd. is wide enough for restriping and median narrowing to create three car lanes AND a separated bicycle lane, then we’re not doing our jobs. 

Let’s Just Do Our Jobs!

 

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.) 

-cw

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