Tue, Jun

The Snow Job


HOW GOVERNMENT WORKS (NOT)--Well, that was discouraging. 

Last night I met Westside bike advocate Kent Strumpell for dinner at a cheap-but-good faux-Italian restaurant on the Miracle Mile. I usually walk there, but this time I pedaled over, since I’d go with Kent to the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting afterwards. Kent, an engaging, witty fellow and dedicated cyclist, is Council District 11’s appointee to the board. We devoured a pizza and downed a couple of beers, then I led Kent through the looking-glass world of Park La Brea (since my beard turned white the security guards assume I live there) and took a strictly-illegal wheeled shortcut through Pan Pacific Park to the meeting place.

I should have had another beer first. It would have made it easier to take.

There were some happy developments to report—well, okay, there was one: Reseda’s Great Streets project has been built, and the earth didn’t split in half and tumble into the fires of the sun. 

But aside from that, the feeling was one such as a mime might experience if he suddenly noticed that the invisible wall had become an actual, tangible barrier, trapping him forever in a soundless new reality. Because mostly we heard about obstruction, inaction, and the futility of hope.

Reporting from LADOT was Rubina Ghazarian, while David Somers spoke for City Planning. Both are fine people, dedicated to the city and to bicycling, and I am happy to count David as a friend. But that didn’t make their words any easier to take—the litany of stalled projects and cancelled plans was grim enough; and added to that was reports of the Council’s incessant pandering to the all-cars-all-the-time constituencies that have kept LA mired in incessant congestion, the Western Hemisphere’s worst air quality, and a lifestyle that condemns every gathering of Angelenos to spend what could be real live social contact time discussing traffic jams and parking woes.

CD 5’s Council Member Koretz is still struggling to remove Westwood Boulevard from the bike network, refusing even to permit traffic studies of the proposal for a road diet; in his emailed pander to ignorant NIMBY’s who refuse even to consider that a road diet might even make life better for drivers, as they have been shown to do, Koretz wrote, “I can’t see any way that I wind up supporting the bike lane on Westwood […] I am going to just kill it now, rather than waiting for a study.” And, of course, CD 1’s reptilian Gil Cedillo, aptly nicknamed “Roadkill Gil” in commemoration of the numerous deaths and injuries scofflaw drivers have caused on his stretch of North Figueroa since he blockaded its ready-to-go road diet, is still struggling to remove that deadly street from the city’s transportation plan.

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That plan, the Mobility Plan 2035, which was under discussion at the BAC meeting last night, was approved by the Council’s Transportation and Land Use committees, but faces the full Council next week. And that Council seems set on adding a number of amendments to the plan—most of them aimed at preventing any change to the crowded killing fields we call our streets. 

The meeting devolved into bitter questioning of Ghazarian and Somers, with apologies for the harsh tone it often took—understandable, as the BAC consists of hard-working city appointees who make not a dime for their efforts. I certainly could not resist asking a question or two myself, though a mere observer…especially regarding the likelihood that an amended Mobility Plan would not comply with California’s 2008 Complete Streets directive, and pointing out that, in the case of North Figueroa, Cedillo was running afoul of a City Charter rule stating that Council members have no veto power over agency-approved projects such as NELA’s road diet, neither individually nor collectively.  

None of this matters, of course. LA’s governing structure these days resembles that of 1930s Chicago. All we need now is fedoras and dirty snow.

(Richard Risemberg is a writer. His current professional activities are centered on sustainable development and lifestyle. This column was posted first at Flying Pigeon




Vol 13 Issue 64

Pub: Aug 7, 2015

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