NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Councilmember Mike Bonin today announced major changes to road safety improvements in Playa del Rey, including restoration of lanes to Vista Del Mar, and formation of task force to evaluate road safety projects in the neighborhood.
Thanks to the assistance of Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, Bonin said, transportation officials will be able to implement changes to Vista Del Mar that still address the City’s liability issues and maintain coastal access.
Hahn directed the county to make free or affordable parking available at the existing county beach parking lot, allowing the city to remove street parking on Vista Del Mar and restore the roadway to two lanes in either direction. The lane reduction was controversial, sparking outrage from commuters who demanded a different solution.
“I said that I was listening, and that I would eagerly embrace an alternative solution that met the requirements of improving safety and maintaining coastal access,” Bonin said. “Thanks to Janice Hahn, we have that alternative.”
“My constituents were frustrated by the impact this project had on their daily commutes,” said Supervisor Hahn. “I am relieved that we were able to come together and find a solution that restores the lanes and prevents pedestrian accidents.”
Bonin also announced that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation will make changes to the signal phasing and the turn at the intersection Vista Del Mar and Culver Boulevard, allowing for better traffic flow through the intersection, unclogging an area of congestion.
The changes to the signal will happen this weekend. County Public Works and Los Angeles Department of Transportation officials expect that work to restore the lanes should begin within three weeks.
Additionally, Bonin announced formation of a Playa del Rey Road Safety Task Force that will evaluate and make recommendations regarding all of the road safety projects in the area, including those on Culver, Jefferson and Pershing, where lanes have also been reduced. The task force will be composed of neighbors who support the projects, neighbors who oppose the projects, local small business people, and safe streets advocates. It will also welcome the participation of other residents, of commuters, and of agencies or entities that can bring expertise or financial resources to the table -- such as the County of Los Angeles and the cities of the South Bay.
The task force will be asked to make a report with recommendations on whether to keep, reverse or modify the projects. They will do so 90 days after the changes are made to Vista Del Mar.
“These projects have been very controversial and divisive for the community, with strong opinions on both sides,” Bonin said. “With the task force, I am confident we will be able to bring all perspectives to the table for a civil conversation and sober analysis, and determine the best path forward.”
The groundwork for both announcements was also laid in part through discussions with Manhattan Beach Councilmembers Amy Howorth and Richard Montgomery, which proved helpful in initiating an ongoing dialogue among South Bay cities and the City of Los Angeles, with the goal of collaborating on a solution.
"We are grateful to Supervisor Hahn for her efforts and applaud Councilmember Bonin for addressing the concerns of the South Bay commuters. It takes a leader to listen to residents and reverse direction when policy doesn’t go as planned," commented Manhattan Beach Mayor Pro Tem Amy Howorth and Councilmember Richard Montgomery.
In the video message announcing the changes, Bonin apologized to those impacted by the projects.
“If you are one of the many people who were inconvenienced, who were late to work, or who missed a bedtime story with your toddler, I am truly sorry,’ Bonin said. “We are working to make this right.”
Bonin, a safe streets advocate, also noted that neighborhoods in Los Angeles suffer from an epidemic of auto collisions, and city officials must slow speeds in certain neighborhoods to combat it.
“Speed kills. Public safety has to be the top priority on our roads, and the City cannot shy from that commitment,” he said. Bonin noted that the leading cause of death in Los Angeles County for children under the age of 14 is traffic collisions, and the people most likely to be killed in collisions are children, seniors, pedestrians, and cyclists. He also noted that LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told the City Council earlier this year that the city had seen more traffic fatalities than gang-related homicides.
For more information about the Playa del Rey road safety projects, please visit www.11thdistrict.com.
(David Graham-Caso is Deputy Chief of Staff for Councilman Mike Bonin.)