ACCORDING TO LIZ - Do you trust the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT)? Do you trust the office that used to be Huizar’s?
Do you trust LA County’s Metro where transit-related crime is on the rise and ridership is dwindling despite soaring gas prices?
Do you trust people who are partisans of road diets and bicycle lanes and embedded in Council Districts, Metro and LADOT and who, in their professional capacity, refuse to take the concerns of the majority of stakeholders under consideration?
During the meeting at which Metro planning approved the Refined F1 1-Lane option, both Kevin de León and Hilda Solis spoke strongly in favor of the project. De León’s speech included the following:
“… I authored Senate Bill 767 which helped create Measure M when I was in the CA State Senate. It's also the reason why I support the NoHo to Pasadena BRT project on the condition that specific mitigations are put into place… These mitigations are based on years of community feedback and conversations with our city departments…”
Unfortunately, community feedback seems to have been limited to only those who are in support of road diets and bicycle lanes.
And then he continued:
“It's an opportunity to design a project that allows us to sustain our local businesses, sustain a small-town feel that Eagle Rock has valued, improve transit services for working-class commuters and improved environmental aesthetics of the corridor.”
How will removing parking for customers and shutting down the ability to easily accept deliveries benefit local businesses? How will traffic congestion affecting every vehicle other than the BRT buses help commuters or the quality of air along the corridor?
The Councilmember did also emphasize that he had given the Metro board members a letter that detailed some mitigations of the proposals, changes required to “build this project right.” These were:
One, Eagle Rock must have a committee, advisory committee, and a dedicated Eagle Rock Project Liaison to ensure an open dialogue and responsiveness to project impacts in real time.
Two, station designs along the corridor must respect Eagle Rock's beloved small-town feel, not simply be a cookie cutter station design.
Three, we need a commitment to establishing a Business Interruption Fund to ensure protections for businesses that will unquestionably be impacted by construction.
Four, we need a commitment to minimize, if not eliminate, cut-through traffic by installing safety improvements that reduce speeds on side streets.
Lastly, we need to ensure that we utilize fully developed trees for landscaping and that they received a full five years of care necessary for long-term health.
All reasonable requests… but these were NOT included in the project as approved.
Nor were repeated demands for other urgent changes from over thirty-five hundred Eagle Rock residents opposed to what was approved on April 28, 2022.
In response to an article imagining what could happen if a wildfire broke out above Eagle Rock after Metro’s approval of the Refined F1 1-Lane option for its BRT plan to put Colorado Boulevard on a killer diet, noting the support of Hilda Solis and Kevin de León for this version despite its truly draconian potential, Sarah Flaherty, a Field Deputy for CD 14, sent the following (emphasis hers):
“I saw your piece in City Watch and am a little concerned you might misunderstand what the implementation of the BRT in Eagle Rock will look like. Our office also flagged the mistake in Metro’s plans that failed to account for the fire station. Though obviously we were frustrated to have a plan with this kind of error being shown to the public, I want to be clear that our office and LADOT oversee implementation on LA’s streets and under no circumstances will we allow a median to block the fire station. I also want to reiterate that emergency vehicles can and will use the dedicated BRT lane in emergencies— the difference between the bus lane and the car lane is just paint.”
My question in return was they WHY APPROVE A MISTAKE, especially one that puts residents at risk?
Martin Reyes from Hilda Solis’ office concurred that the blocking of Fire Station 42 was a problem but it was “something that they have an easy fix for.”
If it was so easy to fix why didn’t they make it PRIOR to approving the plans? Why don’t they pull the plan entirely and reapprove one that addresses ALL the issues?
Furthermore, do we trust KDL’s office, or that of a successor, to oversee ANY implementation? Including ensuring that the line between the lanes is “just paint” and not the solid division shown in many of the drawings that were circulated?
Can LADOT, which has accumulated a mass of road-diet, bicycle-lane yea-sayers in the department reflecting the biases of their General Manager, be trusted to do anything other than manifest its and their personal partisanship?
Do you trust someone who last year weighed in on the issue following multiple complaints to his office calling on Metro to hold additional meetings and maintain two through lanes who then claimed after token hearings involving primarily road diet and bicycle enthusiasts that there is now a consensus for the one-lane option?
And has the chutzpah to credit the “Beautiful Boulevard advocates who worked tirelessly to develop” this plan when those were the one-lane proponents from the get-go?
De León further credited Metro for conducting additional outreach. However, as documented by the Save Eagle Rock Community grassroots organization, the Metro’s community outreach was abysmal. Metro staff made every effort to have as little in-person involvement as possible with the Eagle Rock local community and Eagle Rock stakeholders.
In response to my e-mail asking for what was being done to address the faulty approval of the Refined F1 1-lane option where the median would block Fire Station 42, Sarah sent:
“As Martin and I have both mentioned, this issue has already been discussed and a resolution has been found. Implementation of the project on our city streets requires coordination with and approval from LADOT.”
But LADOT is front and center in coming up with this concept. One of its employees, Severin Martinez, is the driving force behind this disaster.
On June 24th, well before the City Council’s summer recess, I requested Sarah “send me a copy of the letter KDL references in his speech at the Metro vote for the BRT on April 28th as well as written confirmation that Metro has agreed to all the changes.”
Confirmation from Metro in writing amending the approved plan to address all of the Councilmember’s concerns would be one step, addressing constituents’ other serious concerns would be the next.
Instead, the silence has been deafening.
(Liz Amsden is a contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)