Public outreach over bike lanes installed on Colorado Blvd. has become an issue over the last week in the race for L.A. Council District 14. Former County Supervisor Gloria Molina – who has stated that she does not support reallocating roadway space in order to create bicycle lanes – along with fellow challenger Nadine Momoyo Diaz, have repeatedly accused incumbent Councilmember José Huizar of failing to adequately consider the residents’ and other stakeholders’ input when approving bike lane projects. In particular, Molina referenced Huizar’s 2013 green-lighting of bike lanes and other street safety improvements on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock as one example of deficient outreach that allegedly did not respect the will of the community.
Following up on these comments at a 2/12 candidate forum co-hosted by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC), ERNC’s president provided a factual accounting of the public process preceding Huizar’s approval of the project as background information to all CD14 candidates’ campaigns (link). The process, as documented by ERNC’s Executive Committee, included at least four public meetings where dozens of speakers weighed in on whether to reallocate space on Colorado, significant outreach, as well as more than 100 letters and emails received by ERNC regarding the project. The ERNC Executive Committee’s Fact Sheet regarding Colorado Blvd. is reproduced here below the fold:
Colorado Boulevard Bike Lanes Fact Sheet
The bike lane story is summed up in the May 24, 2013 Department of City Planning Recommendation Report about bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard and North Figueroa Street. In addition to a comprehensive analysis of the project by the City of Los Angeles, it contains a list of the public meetings held about the project, and a summary of the feedback from those meetings. Specifically mentioned in the document are:
– A public hearing on February 13, 2013 at the Los Angeles River Center at 570 W. Avenue 26.
– A webinar-style public hearing on February 20th, 2013 where interested public could provide feedback on all of the proposed bicycle lanes in Year of the First Five-Year Implementation Strategy.
– Numerous public meetings held by community groups like TERA, Take Back the Boulevard, Council Districts 1 and 14, and the various Neighborhood Councils in those districts where the City of Los Angeles planned to install bike lanes as part of the backbone of the city-wide 2010 Bicycle Plan.
Among those meetings, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council either held or attended forums specifically about the 3 miles of Colorado Boulevard bike lanes on the following dates:
– ERNC board meeting of March 5, 2013. Agenda is here. The meeting minutes are here. At this public meeting, the ERNC discussed but deferred a vote on the Colorado Blvd portion of the bike lanes, so that even more public input could be gathered at a March 27 meeting held by Councilmember Huizar’s office. As reported in the ERNC newsletter, which is distributed to 1,500 stakeholders, and is reprinted by news organizations and the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment:
“The City of Los Angeles has offered several chances for Eagle Rockers to learn about the possibility of bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard, and what they might mean for traffic speeds, pedestrian and bicyclist safety, health, and commerce. With the help of CD-14, TERA, Take Back the Boulevard, the Chamber of Commerce, and the ERNC, they’re doing it again – this Wednesday, March 27, at 7pm at Occidental College.”
– CD-14 Town Hall meeting on March 27, 2013. The ERNC attended this large public meeting, held by Councilmember Huizar and numerous community groups. (See flyer below.) Here is a link to an Eastsider LA article about the meeting.
– ERNC board meeting of April 2, 2013. Agenda is here. Minutes are here. Over 100 stakeholders attended this public ERNC meeting. As reported in the ERNC newsletter:
“At the April ERNC Board meeting, a packed house (and more!) listened to almost 2 hours’ worth of public speakers, City officials, and ERNC members explain, discuss, and opine on bike lanes along Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock. By the end of the meeting, it was abundantly clear that Eagle Rockers wanted buffered bike lanes installed along the length of Colorado – and soon – and the ERNC voted unanimously (12-0) to support them.”
– CD-14 Town Hall Meeting on June 3, 2013. The ERNC attends another large public meeting held by Councilmember Huizar’s office, which is held after the Planning Department’s report is issued, but before work is begun. It features a revised lane design based on public input at previous public meetings. As reported in the ERNC newsletter:
“The ERNC voted unanimously last April to support the DOT’s buffered bike lane plan for Colorado Boulevard, based on the overwhelmingly positive public input we received from residents and business owners. One of the concerns we heard from individuals and especially businesses was that while bike lanes were a good idea, there were other problems on Colorado that needed to be addressed… Some of you suggested that since all the paint is going to be stripped off the streets when the bike lanes go down, why not use this opportunity to fix a whole host of existing traffic problems? We’ve tried hard to make sure that the good folks at the DOT and Mr. Huizar’s office heard this message – and now they’re coming to town with a revised plan for the bike lanes that is way more specific than it’s been in the past. And they’re asking for your input about the design.”
The ERNC’s vote to support the installation of bike lanes on Colorado Boulevard reflected overwhelming neighborhood support for the project. No vote in the recent history of the ERNC was as well-informed.
– The ERNC received (and read) at least 117 letters and emails specifically about the bike lane implementation plan, from stakeholders who listed their zip codes.
– In addition to dozens of speakers at 4 public meetings attended by hundreds of stakeholders living in Eagle Rock’s 90041, 42, and 65 zip codes, the ERNC heard a report from two board members who personally visited almost every business on the Colorado Boulevard bike lane route, to inform them of upcoming meetings about the bike lanes, and to listen to their opinions.
– The ERNC also separately received a list of 50 Eagle Rock business owners on or near Colorado Boulevard, who signed letters of support for the Colorado Boulevard bike lanes. (See flyer.) Here is a sample of one of the business owner letters.
The ERNC prides itself on informing Eagle Rock stakeholders about important local issues and events, and making sure Eagle Rockers’ voices are heard loud and clear – as well as accurately and proportionally. The Colorado Boulevard bike lane issue was a shining example of how the Neighborhood Council system in Los Angeles can be a vital link between individual stakeholders and their Council District representatives that ensures every voice is heard.