It's all over the nightly news and, as usual, the news is not always accurate, but SAFE was there in person. Get the straight (though admittedly slightly biased in favor of street safety advocates) scoop on what went down...
The opposition to the street safety improvements in Mar Vista was loud, ruckus and often downright rude. There was an equal number of residents and advocates for safer streets that spoke. Actually, by hard count of who spoke, there were slightly more advocates and residents who supported the improvements than those who opposed it. But, what was clear is that the opposition was well organized and a LOT louder in their boos, snickers and calling out of those speaking in favor of the street safety improvements. Between the two sides, it was a loud, standing room only meeting that spilled out of the gymnasium -- 200+ people.
At stake, Mar Vista Community Council's official standing on the future of the Great Streets Project in Mar Vista. Up for discussion was the motion to immediately overturn the Great Streets project specific to Venice Boulevard (which runs through the Mar Vista Community Council area). This would take out the protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements because of the congestion and confusion they seem to have caused within the community.
The community meeting opened with a speech from Councilmember Mike Bonin and a presentation from LA DOT's Nat Gale. Despite sometimes loud insults from the opposition, they presented the history of the project and the future of its evaluation.
Public comment was welcomed by the council board. Despite what the nightly news presented, 60 people spoke in support of the continuation of the pilot project and 54 people spoke in opposition of the project. Even more amazing, EVERYONE who wanted was granted a chance to speak. Advocates from several non-profits, including SAFE, were there to speak; however, the majority of the comments came from the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.
The well organized Restore Venice Boulevard group collected 2,305 signatures on their petition and claim to have canvassed Venice Boulevard businesses to show that 82% do not support that project and that business is down. However, last night showed a greater percentage of business owners on Venice Blvd supporting the project than opposing it.
The emails sent to the Mar Vista Community Council were also more in favor of the project. Between June 29th and the meeting last night, the Council received 90 emails supporting the continuation of the project as opposed to 74 demanding the restoration of the lane along Venice Blvd.
Once the public comment was done, the Mar Vista Community Council board vote went this way:
- The motion to reverse the Great Streets project continuation and restore the lanes was defeated 8 to 3.
- The Director's motion supporting project continuation and the request for more data passed 9 to 2.
We at SAFE have voiced concerns regarding several blind right turns along Venice Blvd. that have been created by the improvements and have requested adjustments because they are potentially dangerous. LA DOT has acknowledged these points and are reviewing options to address this after enough time to evaluate the current changes. (Sigh! When it comes to lives saved, the slowness of changes can be frustrating.) SAFE will continue to voice our concerns on this until the potential dangers are fixed.
That said, overall, we are happy with the direction of adding more bike lanes and working toward the goal of making streets safer for everyone through this project.
**Here Are Ways To Stay Involved:
Tuesday, 7/18/17 7pm
Venice Neighborhood Council Meeting
Westminster Elementary School Auditorium, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd
-- The board will consider a motion to host a town hall with Councilmember Bonin
Saturday, 7/22/17 1pm-3pm
Venice Blvd Great Streets Town Hall
Windward School Gym, 11350 Palms Blvd, Mar Vista
-- Speak directly to LADOT Staff on the project