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One way to slow down the Olympic/Pico one-way traffic plan: more studies *


One thing we can agree on about the Olympic/Pico one-way traffic plan: It's hard to get anyone to agree. About anything. Is it the answer to the Westside's gridlock woes? The death knell to a neighborhood? As of yesterday, the whole issue's quite probably delayed. Steve Hymon, our traffic guru, has details:

A judge issued a tentative ruling Tuesday that the city must do a thorough environmental study before turning Olympic and Pico boulevards on the Westside into virtual one-way streets.

The two-page ruling by Superior Court Judge John Torribio sets the stage for a hearing today in Norwalk where oral arguments will be heard. A business group and a homeowners group have each filed lawsuits over the proposed project.

The controversial plan is being pushed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilman Jack Weiss. The project would initially change the signal timing so that eastbound traffic on Pico and westbound on Olympic are given speedier commutes. Some street parking also would be removed to add a lane of traffic during rush hour.

The city has argued that the modifications to roads and traffic operations are exempt from more study under the California Environmental Quality Act. Torribio ruled otherwise, writing, "The very purpose of the project is to expand the use of the existing streets."

More -- we're betting lots more -- on this to come.

* Updated 3:48 p.m. A judge took no action this afternoon on whether the one-way street plan needs an environmental study. A  ruling is expected Friday and the judge ordered that the city do no 
work on the project until noon Monday.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (1)

This is a hugely modified version of a plan proposed by Zev Yaroslavsky almost two years ago, to turn Pico-Olympic into one-way streets, and follows 18 months of many meetings to get input. The basic plan: synchronize lighting to encourage traffic flow and reduce parking for an extra hour of rush hour.

Improved traffic flow on these main thoroughfares will also reduce cut-throughs onto side residential streets, which happens when cars are in gridlock. An EIR is NOT needed because it will NOT INCREASE the amount of traffic, just move it along faster. Nothing new will be built to even arguably draw or increase traffic.

This s the same annoying group that fights everything on the westside: they were a part of the group that shook down the Century City developer for $7.5 million last year and started a war with Councilman Weiss over it -- he hadn't wanted to be so confrontational I understand, not good for the city's image when HOA's shake down developers on their own, and he had to go in and oversee the settlement. Mike Eveloff, who heads Tract 7260, still rants about this on their website and claims it as a "victory" for the region. The tone used on the website is intentionally snotty and rude to the Councilman, shocking unprofessional, but that's how they've "negotiated" with the Councilman's office for some time.

This group and their shakedown is also cited in the Los Angeles Business Journal and countrywide as one of the things which gives L A "business welcome" a black eye.

So now the Mayor's office and other groups have to run around the country hand in hand, reassuring there IS some city oversight and neighborhoods don't rule alone. Unfortunate irony is, there often IS a valid role when it comes to neighborhood oversight of developers, as with the current potential for abuse of AB1818: But This group has given all HOA's a bad rep as old, blue-haired NIMBYs which they largely are. This group is ALSO allied with the Cheviott Hills HOA which has fought the Subway and Expo lines for over 20 years, and others cobbled together be a few westside activists to pose as a cohesive whole, but in fact, there are a handful of activists who control the neighborhoods.

Thanks to these people, we have the gridlock in the first place, instead of a Red Line going through the westside along Wilshire or this Olympic-Pico Route. Now, of course, we're scrambling for money and the route won't be completed for maybe 15 more years IF... two generations of mass transit GONE. They've also fought the Expo Line Phase I from going past La Cienega and forced it to go so far south, it won't cut traffic on this most congested corridor, and if Metro listens to their re-routing, it will cost us an extra $4 BILLION for a far less useful line.

Jay Handel is the main mover behind the opposition on Pico-Olympic Plan, and he's BOTH a leader in the HOA that claims to rep the area AND he's head of the Westside Chamber of Commerce -- so claiming that both groups are opposed and are independent is the usual lie, to cover up that one guy is behind both groups, with the support of a handful of the same old people who oppose EVERYTHING.

Whenever I've heard Handel, including on John & Ken's KFI, he comes across as a combative fighter with a lower-class New York accent and attitude, who just has it in for the city and Weiss. His attitude and comments are more hostile and we're gonna fight at all costs, than logical or show any attempt to compromise.

His tone is as rude as the Eveloff tone on the Tract 7260 Website: really stupid, to attack the Councilman who your community relies on to defend you on the Council -- especially when each district has different needs, and a number of other Councilmembers see these Westsiders as reactionary NIMBYs anyway. If Handel, Eveloff and their associates wanted to be more self-destructive to the interests of the rest of us they claim to represent, I don't know how.

The intent to just oppose without compromise is clear in how Handel claims to be on the side of merchants, and balance needs of homeowners and merchants, since he claims to wear both hats:

In order to appease the concern of businesses along the stretch of Pico that is slated to lose an extra hour of rush-hour meter parking (something that many streets across the city do NOW and traffic flows faster as promised), the city proposed offering businesses some temp street parking permits for customers. WHO OPPOSED THAT? Jay Handel's group and local homeowners. They "claim" to care about concerns of business but clearly don't: they just want to kill the project any way they can.

Another major hypocrisy: Handel and his groups claim they're concerned about the city's costs involved -- but they're demanding this hugely expensive EIR just to stall and hopefully kill the project. L A and Beverly Hills under Mayor Delshad were all set to implement the plan on a trial basis, but this group has run around agitating everyone that now Wesson (whose Fairfax area is the WORST nightmare of the stretch) is pulling out, waffling Rosendahl and the new Beverly Hills Mayor have to study the issue further, and meanwhile everyone on the westside screams for traffic relief NOW.

The judge needs to see these people's whole history in context in order to decide and I hope someone from the City's DOT and Transportation Dept. can document the proposed improved traffic flow.


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