FTC Letter and Brief Commentary re Today’s Council Vote

FTC’s counsel provided the following letter in advance of today’s city council meeting.

As is evident, not only did the city not correct its previous improper actions, it created even more problems.

Lastly, in a time when politicians wonder why fewer and fewer people are voting, today’s action might provide some insight.

By scheduling this controversial item (MP2035) the day before Thanksgiving, when most people are traveling to family, cooking for family or just being with family, the City Council has again shown its disdain for the public and the law.

This so very clearly shows the council doesn’t want public involvement and is taking action to discourage public involvement.

Is it any wonder that the public sees less and less value in voting?



City Council Holds Joint PLUM/Transpo Meeting re #MP2035

There was a great turnout at yesterday’s joint MP2035 committee meeting.

The committees certainly heard that MP2035 was disliked by the majority of those in attendance.  They also heard that increasing congestion and negatively impacting LAFD response times is a very BAD idea.  Finally, they heard (over and over) that outreach on MP2035 was dismal.

FTC thanks all those who took the time to let the council know how they feel and also thanks those on the council who voiced their concerns.

FTC is reviewing Tuesday’s meeting outcome.  We have ordered a transcript and will review that transcript along with the committee reports.  An initial review indicates multiple additional procedural/legal/charter errors may be involved.

FTC will be submitting a supplemental letter from its attorneys once its analysis is complete.

As to the results of the joint meeting…  It appears that PLUM approved something (not sure what yet) and that Transpo tied (again, not sure on what) so there was no recommendation forwarded to the full council.

City Cites Fix The City’s Lawsuit as Reason to Rescind #MP2035

The city has provided Fix The City notice that it intends to hear a motion to rescind the Mobility Plan (MP2035) as amended and then pass a “clean” copy of the original Mobility Plan.  They have scheduled a joint Planning and Transportation hearing for November 10th at 2:30 PM.

Should the council actually vote in favor of this motion it would be rescinding and rejecting important amendments including:

  • “Considering community input before any Mobility Plan projects are implemented”
  • “Ensuring that emergency responders can effectively serve the community.”
  • “Affirmatively stating equity as an important factor in prioritizing projects for implementation”
  • “Including specific steps to address transportation needs in historically disinvested neighborhoods to achieve regional equity regarding mobility in the City of Los Angeles.”

Fix The City contends in its lawsuit, among other things, that the city council improperly passed MP2035 by amending it  without  submitting the amended plan to the City Planning Commission as required by City Charter Section 555.  The just-released proposed motion specifically states:

“As part of Council deliberations, Council approved three amendments to the plan. On September 9, 2015, a lawsuit was filed challenging the Mobility Plan, and, among other things, specifically contending that the Council’s approval of the amendments did not comply with the procedures prescribed in Los Angeles City Charter Code Section 555. In order to cure the alleged procedural defect, Council would first need to rescind the Mobility Plan 2035 as amended.”

In a last-ditch attempt to rescue MP2035, the city is attempting to fix its first mistake by making the very same mistake again: Namely improperly amending the general plan.  In trying to fix their mistake, they city has acknowledged a key claim of Fix The City’s lawsuit.

MP2035 is, for better or worse, a current part of the general plan.  The City can amend the general plan (which now contains the amended Mobility Plan 2035) only by starting over and obeying Charter Section 555 and other relevant sections.  All amendments can be heard at that time by the Planning Commission and Mayor as required.  There are no legal short-cuts.

In addition, an attempt to pass a “clean” copy of the Mobility Plan would be improper as the council has, per the charter, 75 days to take action on general plan amendments approved by the City Planning Commission and/or the Mayor.  It is long past 75 days.

Simply put, MP2035 is not only flawed, but it was improperly amended and passed.  The only (legal) solution available to the city is to stipulate to a court order invalidating their approval and then go back through the general plan amendment process for the entirety of MP2035 with any amendments council members may wish to add and while respecting the wishes of the voters.

Of course, to revisit MP2035 properly the city would need to update and revisit the flawed environmental impact report which failed to address impacts on congestion, air quality, public safety, growth inducing effects and more.

Perhaps the ultimate motivation behind the new charter shenanigans is that a new public process would mean that the city would have to face a far more educated electorate, and that electorate is not happy with MP2035.  They don’t want congestion.  They don’t want more traffic.  They don’t want slower emergency response times.

With a new public process, the city won’t be able to slip this so-called congestion-increasing, public-safety-decreasing “mobility plan” past the public, the neighborhood councils and several of its own unhappy councilmembers.

Needless to say, this includes serious concerns and some extreme unhappiness with controversial “road diets” such as the one implemented on Rowena in Silver Lake.

Will the city do the right thing?  Will they try to paper over a past mistake with another mistake?  Stay tuned.

Fix The City can be reached at MP2035 at FixTheCity.Org

@LATStevelopez Covers the Rowena Road Diet Saying It Leaves Some “Hungry For Workable Solutions”

The Los Angeles Times’ Steve Lopez attended the recent community meeting on the Rowena “Road Diet.”  His article on the meeting can be found HERE.

His takeaway: That the city didn’t do its homework. (Which is the essence of FTCs lawsuit on MP2035).

His personal finding: “Traffic on Rowena can be hellish at rush hour, so I and a lot of other impatient motorists avoid it by taking alternate routes through narrow streets that weren’t built to accommodate the added flow.”

We found this segment was interesting: “Tim Fremaux of the transportation department said that in Silver Lake, the city studied what it was legally required to study, but maybe not what it should have studied.  ‘We have by no means done this flawlessly,’ he said. ‘There were errors along the way.’

The problem is that FTC can’t find the legally required studies, can’t find any council file appropriating the funds, can’t find out who authorized the changes and under what authority those changes/expenditures were made.

FTC will be issuing several public records requests exploring these issues.   We will be focusing on:

  1. Governance
    1. Under what authority was the Rowena road diet implemented?
    2. Was any environmental work completed?
    3. What was the cost?
    4. What funding source was used?
    5. Was there a council file opened with a corresponding vote?
  2. Traffic
    1. What traffic studies/counts exist for Rowena and connected local streets before and after the road diet was put in place?
    2. How has the LOS changed on Rowena?  VMT?  VHT?
    3. How has the capacity and volume changed on Rowena?
    4. What has the impact been on local cut-through streets?
  3. Public Safety – First Responders
    1. What have response times for LAFD been compared to before the road diet was put in place – both average response time and % of time under 5 minutes?
    2. What have response times for LAPD been compared to before the road diet was put in place?
  4. Public Safety – Accidents
    1. Has there been a change in the number of accidents on Rowena between car/car, car/bike, car/pedestrian, bike/pedestrian?
    2. Has there been a change in the number of accidents on cut-through streets connected to Rowena between car/car, car/bike, car/pedestrian, bike/pedestrian?
    3. How many car/bike/ped accidents have been the result of:
      1. Car driver at fault.
      2. Bike rider at fault.
      3. Pedestrian at fault.
      4. Alcohol/substance abuse.
      5. Distractions such as cell phones.
      6. Infrastructure issue (bad roadway surface/sidewalk).
    4. Has the severity of injuries changed for any accidents since the road diet was put in place?
  5. Outreach
    1. What outreach was done before the road diet was put in place?
    2. Was there a survey before the road diet was put in place?
    3. Has there been any surveying done of residents in the area concerning impacts of the road diet?

And… we couldn’t agree more with this statements: “When city officials come snooping around your neighborhood with plans for a road diet, don’t assume they’re going to do their homework. Get involved. Ask questions. Work out your own compromises.”

FTC is involved and we are asking questions.

Some stats that may be relevant to the discussion:

Bike Accident DataBikeSafety Pedestrian Accident DataPedSafety

Fix The City Settles With @TheAcademy Museum

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and advocacy group Fix the City are pleased to announce they have reached a settlement agreement regarding the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures project. The settlement agreement ensures the Academy and Fix the City will work closely to minimize the Museum’s impact on surrounding neighborhoods. Per the agreement, the Academy and Fix the City will monitor and, if necessary, enforce mutually agreed upon standards for a variety of factors, including traffic, parking, signage, and  noise for the benefit of the community.  This monitoring and enforcement system will likely serve as a model for future development projects in the area.

“Our agreement with Fix the City is the result of several months of fruitful discussion and collaboration,” said an Academy spokesperson. “Our goal has always been to build a museum that not only enriches the public but is respectful to all our neighbors. We are thrilled to begin construction with the support of the community.”

“The settlement agreement embodies a trust, but verify approach with built in mechanisms to fix impacts rather than have them be merely a cost of doing business. Fix the City appreciates the Academy’s willingness to think outside the box on this creative settlement,” said Laura Lake, board member of Fix the City.

In June the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to approve plans for the Academy Museum. Construction begins this month and the museum is expected to open in late 2017.

Settlement Highlights

The Agreement provides creative approaches that balance community protection with the creation of a world class facility.  The highlights are as follows:

  • There is a reduction in signage:
    • The banners on the western edge of the sphere have been removed.
    • The large digital sign on the south side of the Sphere will not be visible from any public street by a motorist.
    • The sign/banners on the east side of the Sphere will not be visible from any public street by a motorist.
    • Signs in the Sign District are limited to only flags, internal signage, canopies, two street level display case monitors on Wilshire Blvd. and the iconic Oscar™ statuette.
    • The Academy Museum and Fix the City will ask the City to amend the Sign District to reflect the limitations.
  • There will be an innovative neighborhood traffic intrusion monitoring and enforcement system.  The system monitors and reports on traffic associated with Museum regular operations and special events.
  • There will also be noise monitoring and enforcement system that ensures operational compliance with the conditions of approval.
  • There will be an innovative parking capacity monitoring system.
  • All monitoring is privately operated and mechanisms for enforcement (if necessary) under the agreement do not rely on the City and are in addition to any provided by the City.
  • There will be reporting on water use.

About the Academy Museum

The Academy Museum will be the world’s pre­mier cultural institution devoted to the history and future of the moving image. Designed by Pritzker Prize­-winning architect Renzo Piano and led by Director Kerry Brougher, the Academy Museum will explore the arts and sciences that have made motion pictures our most innovative and influential art form for more than a century. Piano’s design for the museum will restore and revitalize the historic Wilshire May Company and include a new spherical addition that will connect to the May Company building with glass bridges. The Academy Museum will feature a core historical exhibition and rotating temporary exhibitions complemented by special projects, publications, digital initiatives and a slate of public programs that will include screenings, premieres, panel discussions, gallery talks, and K-12 education initiatives.

About Fix The City

Fix The City is an all-volunteer, non-profit corporation focused on fixing the city by facilitating neighborhood improvements and neighborhood protection; supporting local infrastructure; improving the transparency and efficiency of local government; challenging harmful governmental policies and practices; and advocating for other improvements to the environment.  Fix The City can be found on the web at www.fixthecity.org and followed on twitter @FixTheCityLA.  Inquiries can be sent to info@fixthecity.org.

2005 Report Relevant to MP2035 Discussion: Does Light Rail Worsen Congestion and Air Quality?

The linked article discusses the “counterintuitive” prospect of decreasing VMT while increasing congestion and pollution.  It might provide a useful basis for discussion of MP2035.


The reduction of VMT is normally expected to reduce delays for the remaining motor vehicles. However, since the roadway capacity is reduced by two lanes, the smaller VMT might be offset. The MAG model’s projected vehicle-hours of travel (VHT) indicate that the loss of capacity is a larger factor than the diversion of drivers from their cars. For the region, the addition of light rail is expected to increase VHT by 0.45 percent. For the corridor served by light rail, VHT are expected to increase by 1.23 percent. So even though fewer miles would be traveled, those trips would take longer if light rail is added to the traffic mix.


Inasmuch as light-rail transit is often promoted as a means of improving air quality, the indication that it will actually increase pollution may strike many as counterintuitive. After all, aren’t we luring some people out of their cars? Don’t fewer cars mean less pollution? So far as it goes, the answer is yes. However, by placing the train tracks in the street, we reduce roadway capacity. The reduction in capacity more than offsets the reduction in numbers of vehicles using the roadway. The remaining vehicles take longer to travel through the narrower roadway. This leads to more fuel consumed and higher pollution.

While this article discusses the loss of vehicle lanes to light rail, MP2035 is focused on removing lanes for bikes and buses – each with far less carrying capacity than light rail.  One can only imagine the congestion/air quality concerns would be amplified when lanes are replaced with low-passenger-count alternatives.

Examining Response Times For LAFD Station 56 on Rowena #MP2035

The MP2035 impact study predicted diminished response times for first responders.

FTC thought it would be a good idea to check FireStatLA to see what the city’s own data shows for the LAFD station on Rowena at the heart of the “road diet.”  (LAFD #56)

Without too much commentary – it looks like the city was unfortunately right – despite having not done any of the required study on the matter.  Response times have indeed suffered…

Remember: The overall citywide impact of numerous “road diets” is unknowable since, as stated above, no study was done on this critical issue.

Note that FireStatLA does not report the “arrival within 5 minutes, 90% of the time” metric.  FTC analysis of raw data shows that metric for FS56 at just 46.5% under 5 minutes – half of what it should be…

(As always – none of this should be taken as a criticism of our city’s heroes at the LAFD.  They do the best they can with diminishing resources, increasing congestion and increasing demand for service.)

Citywide (http://www.lafd.org/fsla/stations-map?year=2015)

cola2015acola2015bLAFD #56 on Rowena (2015) (http://www.lafd.org/fsla/stations-map?st=556&year=2015)

row2015arow2015bLAFD #56 on Rowena (2014)  (http://www.lafd.org/fsla/stations-map?st=556&year=2014)
row2013aLAFD #56 on Rowena (2013) (http://www.lafd.org/fsla/stations-map?st=556&year=2013) row2014b row2014a

CM Koretz’ MP2035 Statement Made During Council [preliminary transcript]

KORETZ: Thank you Mr. President. And I’m not unenthusiastic about this plan, although I don’t think it’s cooked and I think it has holes in several districts. As I told the joint committee meeting, I’m not unenthusiastic about cycling, I’m an occasional cyclist, but I’m an enthusiastic cyclist.  I’m sure as an example I’m the only person that has done the California AIDS ride from San Francisco to LA on this council.  I’ve ridden all over the city.  I helped Bill Rosendahl in his efforts to start funding bike paths appropriately.

But I’m also a realist, and that’s why I strongly agree with the majority of residents and community groups in my district, that this stretch of Westwood, basically from Wilshire to UCLA, is not appropriate.  It is a danger.  We will lose crucially needed parking and turn lanes.  I believe traffic will be obstructed and safety will be risked, particularly because of the large number of buses that go through that short narrow stretch, over 900 buses a day, over 25,000 cars a day.

I believe we need a north-south route, to UCLA, but I don’t think we should pick the most dangerous possible choice.  And so, I believe that we should remove the section.  I believe we should ask the commission and the committee to study alternatives at a future date, but I’d like to see it removed.  I feel this process has completely ignored the residents of my district and their concerns, and it’s pretty unusual for the council to ignore a council member and their district concerns.  So I’d ask that you not do that.  it’s more difficult to amend this once it’s passed because it becomes part of the general plan, has to go back to the commission, there are a lot of extra steps.

And, while I have two amendments to propose, there is one that I know would not be precluded from being passed today, wouldn’t have to go back, and the significant portion of it says, “The street segments indicated on the networks represent potential opportunities to connect major destinations, but they are not intended to represent the full range of street options that may be considered during the implementation phase.

For example, while Westwood Boulevard is identified on the bicycle enhanced network as a plausible north-south means of connecting UCLA with destinations to the south, parallel north-south corridors maybe substituted to implement Westwood bicycle enhancements and provide an alternative connection to the city network based upon more detailed operational studies and community engagement.

So it would not remove Westwood, it would provide us the option later to remove it and substitute a route, if it can be found, that is more acceptable to the community and makes more sense after we further studied it.  So, I would ask that we pass that amendment.  If not, we can hear a more dramatic amendment that would actually mandate removing Westwood, with or without alternatives, but I think this one is pretty innocuous and I see no reason why we couldn’t include it now and move it forward.