Sat, Jul

LA’s Measure HLA will not work.  That's the best reason for opposing it.


PLANNING WATCH - I received many comments on last week’s Planning Watch column, in which I explained my opposition to Measure HLA, on the March 5, 2024, ballot.  Unfortunately, most of the comments focused on Measure HLA’s cost.  Other commenters opposed Measure HLA because they opposed biking.  Needleless to say, I don’t think these are convincing reasons to vote against the measure. 

First, I agree that Measure HLA would be expensive.  The City’s Administrative Officer (CAO), Matt Szabo, calculated the measure’s implementation would cost $3.1 billion.  The only disagreement I have with his analysis is its implicit “there is just no money” underpinning.  The funds could be there, but safe bicycling and walking is a low governmental priority in Los Angeles and most other US cities.  After all, the US government has already forked over $115 billion to the Ukraine for it losing war with Russia, with $60 billion in the wings.  Furthermore, in addition to existing weapons transfers, the Biden Administration wants to send Israel $14 billion more in military aid for its attacks on Gaza’s residents, their apartments, schools, hospitals, and Gaza’s water, sanitation, and street systems.  

If the United States were a poor country, these foreign military expenditures and proposals would never have been made. 

Second, I strongly disagree with those who oppose Measure HLA because they oppose more bicycling.  What they fail to understand is that Los Angeles needs much more biking, but that Measure won't work even if the funding materialized.  It would result in hundreds of short bicycle lanes, paths, and related street and sidewalk improvements  Few people would start to bike if cyclists were still forced to bike in traffic because of major gaps in the bicycle network, as well as new, short, disconnected, dangerous, and unprotected bike lanes.


          Biking in heavy traffic discourages cycling.

My point is that Los Angeles could match Portland and New York City in its level of cycling if the funding materialized AND if the new bicycle lanes and paths were protected and connected to each other.  But Measure HLA ignores connectivity and bicycle safety as implementation criteria, instead opting for building out short, disconnected bicycle and pedestrian improvements when streets and sidewalks are repaired. 

This approach is doomed to fail, which is why I encourage Angelino to vote no on Measure HLA. 

(Dick Platkin is a retired Los Angeles city planner who reports on local planning issues for CityWatchLA.  He is a board member of United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles (UN4LA).  Previous columns are available at the CityWatchLA archives.  Please send questions to [email protected].)