CORRUPTION WATCH-Why Is Los Angeles designing a Traffic System for 1895 New York City? Hardly anyone in Los Angeles is paying any attention Mayor Garcetti’s Mobility Plan 2035, and as a result, Angelenos do not realize that he is planning a transportation infrastructure appropriate for 1895 Manhattan.
The major thrusts of MP 2035 are two-fold:
(1) Make surface street congestion much worse than it presently is in order to force people to ride bikes, walk and use fixed rail transit.
(2) Increase densification in order to pretend that fixed rail transit will be economically feasible (it won’t).
The ulterior motive for reverting Los Angeles to 19th Century modes of transportation is to make the developers of mega-projects and of subways and fixed rails systems wealthier -- before most others are able to realize they’ve been conned.
The Bike Lane Fiasco
Some Angelenos in Silver Lake and in Councilmember Bonin’s westside district have seen the impact of clogging the streets by adding bike lanes for non-existent bike riders. Despite the clamor, bike riders comprise 1% of Los Angeles’ commuters, while people who commute by car comprise 77.3%. (Data is based on the 2014 U.S. Census -- the latest year the City had available when it issued MP 2035 in 2015.) MP 2035 does not reveal much about the mathematics behind Bike Lanes.
When commenters on the draft of MP 2305 stated that “it is irresponsible to allocate a lot of resources to bicycle elements, as bicycle riders are a small percentage of overall commuters,” City Planning’s Staff Report in 2015 did not mention the 1% bike versus 77% car statistic, but instead responded, “The Bike Plan’s yearly mileage objectives created an ad-hoc network of pieces that were installed to meet a number.” (May 28, 2015 Staff Report p. 34.)
That’s right…“a number.” Never mind what that number might be. All the public gets to know is that the ad-hoc network has pieces to meet “a number.” In brief, the Garcetti Administration gave the public the flying fickle finger of fate.
LA Capitalizes Upon the Death of Pedestrians
As we saw in Silver Lake, the City abuses it position to provide citizens false information and emotional hype enabling it to impose road diets in neighborhoods that end up making traffic congestion much worse. In 2012, a young woman was killed crossing Rowena. In an article about her death, David Zahniser of the LA Times wrote: “Mobility Plan 2035, a sweeping transportation policy approved by the City Council last week, seeks to shift the city's emphasis away from the automobile. It looks to add hundreds of miles of bicycle and bus-only lanes — changes that could make an array of boulevards across the city resemble Rowena.”
But what are the facts? “Police said [24-year-old] Sandau was not in a crosswalk when she was hit, and the driver of the vehicle showed no signs of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” (April 1, 2012, Eastsider, Silver Lake Traffic Accident Victim Identified) They added that Bike Lanes on Rowena was an absurd response to the fact that someone had been killed by jaywalking at night.
Councilmember Bonin Also Capitalizes a Tragic Death
According to Emily Alpert Reyes’ piece in the LA Times on April 19, 2017, “Two years ago, 16-year-old Naomi Larsen had left the fire pits at the beach after midnight and was crossing Vista Del Mar with her friends when she was hit by the car, suffering injuries that led to her death weeks later.”
“Councilmember Bonin seized upon this tragedy to reduce the road by two lanes during day time rush hour,” according to the Los Angeles Daily News on September 14, 2017.
As everyone knew, the young girl was crossing the road way after midnight because her car was parked on the non-beach side of the road. The simple solution was to eliminate beach parking from the non-beach side and replace it with parking near the beach. Even Inspector Couseau could see that nothing in Naomi Larsen’s death justified the drastic daytime road diet.
Mobility Plan 2035 Inadvertently Does Explain its Purpose
In addition to admitting the purpose of road diets is to cause traffic congestion, the May 28, 2015 Staff Report admits: “Proposed [MP 2035] does this, by among other things, concentrating transportation infrastructure around commercial centers and corridors and other areas with an existing high need for transportation infrastructure.” (Staff Report, page 30.)
Yes, the purpose is to make the high-density high rise Black Lung Lofts financially feasible. It takes but a moment’s reflection to realize that trying to cram people from over 5,000 sq. miles into a few square acres is a fool’s plan which has to result in unbearable gridlock. Thanks to the excessive construction which the City has already done, Los Angeles has the worst traffic congestion in the world. Mayor Garcetti believes that if LA’s traffic becomes completely intolerable, then the high rises his developer buddies are constructing will be financial successes. Too late for that though. Failure is already obvious.
Not only are Family Millennials fleeing Los Angeles, but DTLA has the greatest vacancy rate in 17 years. This does not surprise people who watch these matters. Back in November 2015, the city’s own HCIDLA (Housing and Community Investment Department) reported that apartments constructed in the prior decade had a 12% vacancy rate. Thus, it makes sense that more construction would increase the vacancy rate.
Garcetti’s developer friends have vainly hoped that squandering $200 billion to construct more subways and fixed rail projects will make their high rises profitable, even though that myth was debunked years ago. The CRA Hollywood-Highland Project, constructed on top of a subway station, lost two thirds of its construction value of $625 million and was sold to Garcetti’s friends at CIM Group for only $201 million. Then, $30 million was spent to re-vamp the new Kodak Theater so that Cirque du Soleil could be a 30-year anchor tenant. Again, the subway was proclaimed to be the crucial element which would convey people from all over Los Angeles to the Kodak Theater. Instead, it was such a financial disaster that it closed after two years.
MP 2035's Drastic Omissions
MP 2035 is a fraud against the public that is based on more Lies and Myths -- just like Garcetti’s Hollywood Community Plan. Transit ridership continues to drop. As soon as undocumented aliens could obtain drivers licenses, ridership dropped even more as even poor people prefer cars. When Uber became widespread, ridership dropped again because those with more money had an alternative to mass transit. Now Newhall Ranch is opening and people can escape LA proper and own a home and work near Newhall Ranch or perhaps in the Northern part of the San Fernando Valley. They would be fools to commute to DTLA. Other developers see these coming demographic changes that will be beyond the political control of Garcetti. They know that very low-rise office complexes are completely compatible with neighborhoods of detached homes.
The advent of electric cars -- which will become self-driving -- will make concerns about urban sprawl high on Millennials’ agendas. Newhall Ranch already requires homes to have enough solar panels to fuel a family’s electric car. Thus, auto emissions will soon cease to be a reason to avoid cars.
Self-driving cars are actually robot cars. Electric cars which can drive themselves can also drive to Ralphs and pick up your order or stop at Save-On for your prescription, all while you remain home.
The New Urban Sprawl Will Make People “Home Centric”
With the new urban sprawl, Americans will become more home-centric. Virtual Presence, Cisco’s Telepresence, will make telecommuting much easier. Just as our lives have been revolutionized by small hand-held devices, our lives are about to be turned upside down again but this time by mega-screens which cover a wall and cameras and mics that track you as you walk about the room. The days of being tied to the small computer, using the physical keyboard are almost exhausted.
This new technology means that people will spend more time at home and this will cause a demand for larger homes with bigger yards – otherwise we will go crazy with cabin-fever. The new “mega-devices” also mean that we will live farther from any dense inner city. The idea of being trapped in a 500-square foot high rise apartment will be shunned as a living Hell. Not only will our need to physically commute be greatly reduced, but with self-driving cars, distance will not be as aggravating because we will be able to tend to other tasks while the car drives us to our destinations.
Now we know why Los Angeles is designing a traffic plan for 1895 New York. That was the era when the building of skyscrapers and subways generated mega bucks for real estate developers. In the 21st Century, no amount of disinformation will convince people to live in Garcetti’s Black Lung Lofts and ride his slow, crowded dirty choo-choo trains.
(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.