President Dougherty asked Director Larry Eisenberg, as chair of the Ad Hoc Traffic Committee, to report. Mr. Eisenberg said he had done some follow-up investigation on taxi coupon books for seniors, a matter raised by a Stakeholder at the last meeting. He also reported that rush hour traffic flow is a main concern of the City's Department of Transportation ("City DOT"), the Mayor, and many other elected representatives. Even though there often are peak hour parking restrictions on major thoroughfares, these restrictions sometimes are ignored by construction companies that usually start work at 7:00 a.m. Equal enforcement of traffic restrictions is one way to help improve traffic flow.
Chairman Eisenberg mentioned that, in addition and over the long run, some suggest that a westward extension of the Wilshire Metro Red (Purple) Line subway will be the way to address these traffic flow concerns. Mr. Eisenberg recommended that the possible construction of this subway extension through the middle of the GWNC area is an issue that deserves focused study by affected Stakeholders. In addition to transportation impacts (either benefits or burdens), there are easily foreseeable short-term construction impacts and long-term land use impacts on our community. He recommended that a Subway Subcommittee of the Traffic Committee could be created, and President Dougherty said that was an excellent idea and that he would follow up with Mr. Eisenberg.
Mr. Eisenberg said it was important for all of the Directors to understand the inter-relatedness of traffic issues and that a reduction of traffic in one neighborhood could result in an increase in traffic in an adjoining neighborhood. These could be neighborhoods within GWNC or in adjoining neighborhood council areas. He said an appropriate question for Board study and debate would be how such potential conflicts can be addressed.
(At this point, 8:03 p.m., Director Michael Rosenberg left the meeting.)
Director Susan O'Connell asked if there is a single traffic person at City DOT who is assigned to, or focuses upon, our neighborhood? Mr. Eisenberg said there is not; City DOT has different staff people involved on different issues that affect the GWNC. Director Chickie Byrne suggested that getting a single point-of-contact person at City DOT is something GWNC and its Traffic Committee might want to pursue.
Based on the discussion, Mr. Eisenberg at this point offered the following Resolution for consideration by the Board and made a Motion for its adoption:
"Resolved, that the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council requests that peak hour traffic restrictions on major thoroughfares be enforced against public and private construction projects."Mr. Forbes seconded the Motion, with the request that, if adopted, it be communicated in a GWNC letter to City DOT, all City Council Offices, and the Mayor.
President Dougherty asked if there were any requests for further discussion and, seeing none, called the question. The Motion carried unanimously.
Director Larry Eisenberg, as chair of the Ad Hoc Traffic Committee, indicated there were Gower Street residents who wish to express concerns about parking on their block. Lorena Miller and her husband moved to their house in the block of Gower Street between First Street and Beverly Boulevard in December of 2005. They discovered that portions of the street, which is limited to 2-hour parking during business hours, regularly gets filled with the cars of Larchmont shoppers, including yoga studio attendees. Her husband has spoken with neighbors about obtaining permit parking for their block so the residents and their employees and visitors may park for longer than two hours. In investigating this matter with the City's Department of Transportation ("City DOT"), it was learned that the City traditionally has wanted permit parking petition requests to come from much larger areas, perhaps 6-to-8 blocks. However, the Gower neighbors have learned that City DOT will be changing this policy in December to allow smaller areas to request permit parking. Ms. Miller said she is seeking a GWNC letter of support for the efforts of her block.
Director Roy Forbes offered a Motion that the GWNC support permit parking for the block of Gower Street between First Street and Beverly Boulevard, so long as two- hour parking remains available there for non-permit holders. Director Cindy Chvatal seconded the Motion. Mr. Forbes re-stated the Motion as follows: "Following the recommendation of its Ad Hoc Traffic Committee, the Board of Directors of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council directs its officers to provide a letter of support for permit parking for residents of the 100 and 200 portions of North Gower Street, provided that 2-hour parking continue to be allowed for non-permit-holders." President Dougherty asked if there were any discussion on Mr. Forbes' Motion. There being no further discussion, he called the question, and the Motion carried unanimously.
Director Larry Eisenberg, as chair of the Ad Hoc Traffic Committee, reported that it was frustrating to find that the efforts of the City's Department of Transportation ("City DOT") to address traffic issues around Los Angeles are primarily focused on "traffic calming." Evidence appears to show that City DOT kowtows to local neighborhoods, forcing traffic back onto gridlocked major streets. City DOT could refer requests and complaints to the appropriate City Council Office, but it seems to him that the Council District representatives tend to act primarily in their own parochial interests and not in the broader interests of transportation users generally.
Mr. Eisenberg said he had a second component to his report, relating to sidewalks. He rhetorically asked "What is it like for pedestrians, especially disabled pedestrians, to get around?" He noted that many City sidewalks are in sad shape. He has learned that, under California law, abutting property owners are responsible for damage done to sidewalks from trees. However, in 1974, the City of Los Angeles adopted a law relieving property owners of that liability and taking upon the City the responsibility for maintaining trees and sidewalks. Mr. Eisenberg also reported on the City's "50/50 Sidewalk Program" under which the City will split sidewalk repair expenses with property owners or groups.
President Dougherty thanked Mr. Eisenberg for his report and asked the Board if there were any questions or comments. At this point, Alternate Russell Sherman volunteered to join the Ad Hoc Traffic Committee. Jane Usher suggested that GWNC begin a program to assist homeowners in participating in the 50/50 Sidewalk Program after the Committee identifies some of the worst examples of GWNC sidewalks needing repair. There was discussion of GWNC funds being used as part of the 50/50 match.
Carolyn Bennett reported that her block on Lucerne Boulevard recently had some unhappy experiences with City sidewalk repair, and she volunteered to distribute an email concerning the program. Thomas Fenady expressed concern about liability issues that may remain with respect to abutting property owners. Chickie Byrne suggested that we consider carefully before we begin spending GWNC money at particular physical locations within the Neighborhood Council boundaries because of the effect that selective GWNC spending can have on others within the community.
Fourth Council District Field Deputy Carolyn Ramsay noted that the Council Office was well aware of the frustrations experienced by the Bennetts and other residents of Lucerne, as well as residents of other blocks where the City recently has done sidewalk repair. Ms. Ramsay said that a by-product of the recent Windsor Square HPOZ approval is that future sidewalk repair, within the HPOZ, will be done with more care to match the existing sidewalks.
President Dougherty thanked Ms. Ramsay for those helpful observations and also thanked Mrs. Bennett for agreeing to help with the communications about the sidewalk repair program, and he again thanked Mr. Eisenberg for following up on all of these various traffic-related issues.