A project focused on saving lives on our streets was brought to a screeching halt this past week. The opposition won over Councilman Bonin and other officials in the case of the street safety projects in Vista Del Mar and Playa Del Rey.
For those who have been living under a rock or just haven't been keeping up, here's the low down on the Playa Del Safety Initiative Projects in question. The Playa Del Rey Projects came from community interest in improving street safety and making Playa Del Rey a more livable beach community for all its residents. After two and half years of community outreach and engagement, the community opted to install lane restriping as a pilot project, which was scheduled for re-evaluation over the first year. According to LADOT, from 2003-2016, Culver Blvd. had 84 serious injury crashes and 6 deaths, Jefferson Blvd. had 96 serious injury crashes and 2 deaths and Pershing Drive has 64 serious injury crashes.
Each project included buffered bicycle lanes that would have created safe routes for people on bikes to connect to destinations along the project.
This past week, a separate but related project on Vista Del Mar was addressed. This project was developed -- with an unfortunately rushed community outreach process -- in response to dangerous levels of speeding, a pattern of tragic crashes that resulted in serious injuries and death and a $9.5 million wrongful death lawsuit that was settled in April of this year. The suit came in response to the tragic death of 16 year old Naomi Larsen, who was fatally struck by a car while trying to cross the street after attending a bonfire at Dockweiler with her friends.
From 2003-2016, there were 210 traffic collisions on Vista Del Mar, including 5 deaths. To address the dangerous design of the street before the summer beach crowds started coming in, LADOT began working to move all parking to the west side of the street only, create U-turn pockets and narrow the road to one lane in each direction. This project never included a bike lane and ran from Imperial Hwy to Culver Blvd.
A town hall meeting was scheduled on Saturday, July 29th to discuss continuation of the project was canceled abruptly. Mike Bonin had reached a decision due to public objection of the project adding significant commute time for residents. On July 26th, Councilmember Bonin announced an effort to relieve congestion and, therefore, reverse the Vista Del Mar project to the disappointment of street safety advocates in the area.
The solution is to move the parking spaces from the East side down to Dockweiler Beach, making room for the two lanes in each direction to be restored.
All is not lost though, the road diet on Venice Blvd still moves forward. In the midst of the opposition fighting back, SAFE will continue to fight FOR projects which improve the safety on our streets.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, August 15th at 6:30pm, the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa will vote on a motion to approve a letter to Councilmember Bonin regarding a request to reverse the removal of lanes in Playa Del Rey under the Safe Streets Pilot Program.
If you would like to make public comment at the meeting, here's the info:
Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa General Meeting
Westchester Municipal Building Community Room
7166 Manchester Avenue
Westchester, CA 90045
Attendees are each allowed two minutes for public comment.