Los Angeles city transportation officials don’t agree with a recent traffic study issued by a Mar Vista Community Council traffic analyst regarding the impact of Playa Vista traffic.
City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation senior transportation engineer Jay Kim says his department does not agree with the conclusions of Mar Vista Community Council traffic analyst Bill Pope.
The Mar Vista Community Council is the city-certified Neighborhood Council for Mar Vista.
Pope claims that the Playa Vista development would worsen Mar Vista area traffic and cost taxpayers money to fund critical traffic improvements required for Phases I and II development not controlled or funded by Playa Vista.
The Mar Vista traffic analyst also claimed that the City of Los Angeles gave permission to Playa Vista to use residential streets as planned routes for Playa Vista-generated travel.
Playa Vista officials also disagree with Pope’s traffic comments.
There will be no significant Playa Vista-generated impacts remaining in Mar Vista, Venice, or any other community, according to Playa Vista director of planning and entitlements Marc Huffman.
There is no legal requirement that calls for finishing Phase I before Phase II, said Huffman.
The City of Los Angeles did not “give Playa Vista permission to use residential streets as planned routes” for project travel as Pope claims, Huffman said.
The city traffic study contains a detailed analysis of potential “cut-through” traffic impacts on neighborhood streets, and identified four areas which may experience potential impacts due to The Village at Playa Vista, said Huffman.
None of these four areas are located in Mar Vista and The Village at Playa Vista project is not projected to substantially increase traffic on residential streets in the Mar Vista area, said Huffman.
A mitigation measure requiring Neighborhood Traffic Management Plans to be implemented for these four areas was included in the City of Los Angeles transportation department mitigation plan.
The traffic study prepared for The Village at Playa Vista was one of the most comprehensive traffic studies ever conducted in the City of Los Angeles, Hoffman said, adding that city transportation department officials have concluded that the city study accurately assesses the traffic impacts of The Village, Huffman said.
A July 7th assessment letter for The Village from the city Department of Transportation stated that all significant traffic impacts associated with The Village are mitigated by the mitigation program proposed in the traffic study, said Huffman.
As for Pope’s maps for 2003-2010 levels of traffic and travel times in the Mar Vista area, Hoffman said traffic is projected to worsen in the future, whether or not The Village at Playa Vista is approved and constructed.
The city traffic department traffic analysis concludes that The Village at Playa Vista would result in no significant traffic impacts after mitigation within an entire 100-square-mile study area, including Mar Vista, Huffman said.
He said that the city traffic study used a state-of-the-art travel demand forecasting computer model to study a 100-square-mile study area, bounded by Wilshire Boulevard on the north, Crenshaw Boulevard on the east, Artesia Boulevard on the south, and the ocean on the west.
“We can only mitigate for our project, not everyone else’s,” said Huffman.
Future traffic growth in the area will also be caused by many other projects in the study area — as noted by Pope — and other projects outside the study area that will contribute to traffic growth on the roadway network, Huffman said.
The traffic improvements discussed by Pope include planned and funded improvements that are anticipated to be completed before The Village is complete, said Huffman.
The standard procedure for completion of traffic studies requires evaluation of the roadway network as it will exist when the proposed project is complete, and these roadway improvements are assumed to be completed by project build-out, Huffman said.
“Pope incorrectly states that the study assumed four additional traffic lanes in the San Diego Freeway (I-405) between the Marina Freeway (State Route 90) and the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10),” Huffman said.
“The improvement actually reflected in the traffic study was the addition of a northbound and southbound high occupancy vehicle lane on the I-405 in this same area, and construction has recently begun on this project,” Huffman said.
The city transportation department participated in development of the traffic model, and the network detail defined in the model included all freeways, major arterials, secondary arterials, and some collector streets within the 100-square-mile study area, including refining the roadway network to ensure that the potential impacts of The Village were adequately evaluated, Huffman said.
Certain collector streets and local streets were included in the model network to provide adequate detail to account for trips in the network, rather than treat them as commuter routes, and the traffic projected by the model reflects this fact, said Huffman.
Huffman responded to two other projects that Pope discussed, on Aviation Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard.
Segments of additional lanes on Aviation Boulevard have already been constructed and the expansion of Lincoln Boulevard is planned to begin construction later this year, Huffman said.
Pope claimed that at least 12 streets in Mar Vista are residential streets and should not “be used to assist regional traffic to bypass commuter-intended highways.”
Some of those roads — including Inglewood Boulevard, McLaughlin Avenue, Palms Boulevard, Beethoven Street and Walgrove Avenue — were included in the traffic model to accurately account for trips to and from those areas to the project, evaluating potential Village traffic impacts, Huffman stated.
For example, traffic during the evening peak hour along Inglewood Boulevard north of Venice Boulevard is projected to increase by six trips as a result of The Village, from 609 trips to 615 trips — an increase of less than one percent, Huffman said.
In contrast, traffic along Centinela Avenue north of Venice Boulevard is projected to increase by 48 trips, from 3028 to 3076 trips — an increase of 1.6 percent. These projections reflect the fact that Centinela Avenue, as the “commuter-intended highway,” will carry much more traffic than Inglewood Boulevard at this location, said Huffman.
VILLAGE PLAN — The Playa Vista Phase II plan includes the following traffic mitigations:
n five additional buses to be operated by the Culver City Municipal Bus Lines, to enhance transit service along key transit corridors such as Sepulveda and Jefferson Boulevards;
n new bus service to be extended along Jefferson Boulevard, and a new, limited-stop line between Playa Vista and the Fox Hills transit center and the Century Boulevard corridor;
n funding of operating and maintenance costs for these buses for ten years and subsidizing of bus passes for up to 200 employees or residents at Playa Vista;
n extension of the Playa Vista external shuttle to Fox Hills Mall and the regional transit center at the mall and to other key destinations such as Howard Hughes Center, Loyola Marymount University, and Playa del Rey;
n contribution to computerized signal system improvements and transit priority enhancements throughout the West Los Angeles area, including the communities of Westchester, Venice, Del Rey, Mar Vista and the City of Culver City;
n signal improvements to help complete the computerized signal network at approximately 75 intersections in the West Los Angeles area, designed to improve traffic conditions throughout the area;
n physical improvements, including widening of Centinela Avenue between the Marina Freeway (State Route 90) and Culver Boulevard and Jefferson Boulevard between Beethoven Street and Centinela Avenue;
n completion of Bluff Creek Drive between Lincoln Boulevard and Centinela Avenue, and improvements to nine key intersections in the area; and
n funding for Neighborhood Traffic Management Plans in affected areas of the Westchester and Del Rey neighborhoods.
Huffman said that with program implementation, all significant traffic impacts resulting from The Village would be mitigated, and overall traffic conditions projected to occur in the future with The Village would be better than the projected future traffic conditions without the Playa Vista Village.
A substantial amount of time and effort went into the development of a comprehensive transportation mitigation plan, Huffman said.
He called the plan balanced among physical improvements, signal system improvements, transit-related improvements and measures to mitigate potential construction impact of this transportation mitigation plan.
The model is used to project traffic on the street and highway network, including existing traffic, future traffic growth and traffic from new projects, and calibrated to real-world traffic conditions to accurately reflect activity in the base year traffic environment, Huffman said.
The Mar Vista community could still work with the city transportation department to address unforeseen neighborhood traffic intrusion problems after people move into Playa Vista Village, Huffman said.
The city transportation department will investigate cut-through traffic complaints and, if it is determined that any problems can be attributed to The Village, the city transportation department will work with the affected residents, the local City Council office, homeowner groups and traffic engineering consultants to design a Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan to address the areas of concern, Huffman said.
If the traffic intrusion is unrelated to The Village project, Mar Vista could still work with the city transportation department to develop a Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan funded through other means, said Huffman.
“Playa Vista has created a significant new artery — Bluff Creek Drive, which will start with four lanes and expand to six lanes, with a curb-cut at Lincoln Boulevard, and connecting to Centinela Avenue on the east side of the property, said Doug Moreland, Playa Vista senior vice president.
“This is the first new artery introduced into the area in years,” said Moreland.
Moreland, formerly with the Disney Corporation, said he had been involved with the development of “California Adventure” near Disneyland.
Moreland said he was thoroughly impressed by Playa Vista’s careful planning, the thorough studies, and the wide scope of mitigation undertaken, saying it was the most comprehensive development plan he had ever seen.
“Playa Vista has over 3,000 residents to date, and Electronic Arts — a business located at Playa Vista — currently has 500 employees, with ten to 15 percent of the employees residing at Playa Vista,” said public relations consultant Steve Sugerman.