Residents who are curious about the potential impacts of converting Olympic and Pico Boulevards into one-way corridors weighed in on the proposal at a town hall meeting at the Penmar Park Recreation Center in Venice Wednesday, June 20th.
Hosted by the West Los Angeles Democratic Club, the town hall provided an opportunity for residents familiar with travel on the two major thoroughfares to receive information and offer input on the one-way plan.
A traffic study commissioned by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and authored by transportation consultant Allyn Rifkin has found that traffic capacity on the two boulevards between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica could increase by up to 20 percent if they were converted into one-way corridors.
The study proposes transforming Olympic and Pico into paired one-way streets, with traffic flowing east on Olympic and west on Pico.
Under the proposal, there would still be two-way bus and van pool lanes on the two streets through the use of “contra-flow” lanes. Left turns and street parking would be restricted during peak hours.
Emergency vehicles could use the contra-flow lanes at any time, while buses and van pools would be able to use the lanes during peak hours, according to the proposal suggested in the study. Local traffic would be permitted to use the lanes only during off-peak hours, when parking would also be allowed.
Some community members at the town hall meeting praised the study for sparking discussion of a potential solution to reducing traffic congestion, saying the study needed to be looked at further.
“Now we have something to work with,” said West Los Angeles Neighborhood Council president Jay Handal, who spoke on the study at the town hall. “These studies have to happen. We need to think outside the box.”
Others were not as supportive of continuing the study and said they didn’t see how the one-way proposal could successfully settle congestion problems in the area.
“I see too many fatal flaws and huge consequences for some communities, especially in my area,” said Mike Eveloff, president of the Tract 7260 Homeowner Association, which covers West Los Angeles.
But most of the town hall audience appeared to be in agreement that Westside traffic is out of hand and something needs to be done to ease congestion in the near future.
The 14-mile stretch of Olympic and Pico between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles carries more than 106,000 vehicles per day, according to the study. Sections of the corridors run through the cities of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles and all three cities would need to approve the one-way plan for it to take effect.
Yaroslavsky has said that he commissioned the study to explore a potential solution to easing traffic congestion in the area in the more immediate future.
Proposed traffic improvements, such as the Exposition Light Rail Line and the Wilshire Purple Line subway extension are currently in the works, but officials have said those projects are years away from possible implementation.
Rifkin said he conducted the study to see “what could be done now” to increase traffic capacity and he added that the proposal is meant to spark discussion on the potential solution.
Officials involved with the study plan to meet with each of the three cities covered in the one-way proposal and get input from the various city officials and residents.
Representatives of Los Angeles City Councilmen Bill Rosendahl, Herb Wesson and Jack Weiss were on hand at the Venice town hall meeting to hear from the public.
“We’re talking to all of the cities along the corridors — that’s part of the process,” Rifkin said. “The purpose of the meetings is to have people understand what the proposal is.”
After comments and suggestions are gathered from the various meetings, some changes may be made to help improve the plan, Rifkin noted.
Among the main concerns of community members with the one-way plan is the impact to neighborhoods and intersecting streets as drivers cut through between Olympic and Pico boulevards.
Other concerns are the impact on businesses along the corridors, increases in travel miles and confusion of visitors and tourists regarding which direction the boulevards head.
Resident Scott Dennis, who attended the town hall in Venice, said he has seen many one-way plans “come and go” and he feels that the proposal for Olympic and Pico could be dangerous.
“I don’t believe in one-ways at all,” Dennis said.
In reviewing the study, Eveloff of the Tract 7260 Homeowners Association said he is concerned about the impact on ac- cess to areas such as Rancho Park, as well as increased cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets.
While the communities can’t afford to wait years to solve traffic problems, Eveloff said there needs to be a more “comprehensive” approach.
Handal of the West Los Angeles Neighborhood Council acknowledged that some people would be inconvenienced with the one-way solution, but the communities should study the issue more to decide how to mitigate some of the concerns.
“It’s a win-win situation if we can find a way to mitigate some of the issues people are afraid of,” Handal said.