A traffic study prepared by Mar Vista Community Council Transportation Committee traffic analyst Bill Pope claims that traffic in the Mar Vista area will get worse with the build-out of the Playa Vista development.
The traffic study claims that because the City of Los Angeles doesn’t require all Playa Vista traffic impacts to be completely eliminated, traffic and travel times in the Mar Vista area will get worse.
The Mar Vista Community Council is the city-certified Neighborhood Council for Mar Vista.
Playa Vista does not control or fund the most critical traffic improvements required for Playa Vista Phases I and II, and if these improvements are not completed with taxpayer money, the Westside will become truly grid-locked, Pope claims.
The largest roadway improvements required to accommodate Playa Vista Phase I and II traffic “will actually be funded by you and me,” said Pope. He said these include:
n four additional lanes on the San Diego Freeway (I-405) between the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) and the Marina Freeway (State 90);
n two new lanes on Aviation Boulevard between Arbor Vitae Street and Manhattan Beach Boulevard, and
n expansion of Lincoln Boulevard to seven lanes through the Westchester business district, impacting many businesses.
However, Pope says that some additional roadway space being assumed as available to absorb both Phase I and Phase II Playa Vista traffic will cost some Westside residents more than tax dollars.
Because existing commuter arterials are already full, the City of Los Angeles gave Playa Vista permission to use residential streets as planned routes for absorbing traffic from the Playa Vista project and from competing projects, Pope claims.
This appears to be a violation of both the City of Los Angeles general plan and most Westside community plans and is currently being protested by the Mar Vista Community Council, Pope said.
“Playa Vista traffic planners have devoted all of their energy and resources to moving their new traffic out of the immediate vicinity of their project,” said Mar Vista Community Council chair Tom Ponton.
“Very little thought or planning has gone toward considering what happens to their tens of thousands of cars after they end up in nearby neighborhoods.
“There’s no mass transit plan, except for a few buses, no plan for bicycle lanes except inside the project area.”
“There’s no local plan for Mar Vista or Venice, even though our communities lie waiting as prey for an exponential increase in vehicles cutting through our residential streets on the way to Santa Monica and West Los Angeles businesses and shopping centers,” Ponton said.
If this practice is allowed to stand, residential streets will become commuter highways and neighborhoods will be destroyed, Pope said.
While Playa Vista is being sold as a self-contained “live where you work” community, the Playa Vista environmental impact report (EIR) predicts that only 12 percent — an average — of Playa Vista vehicle trips will stay inside Playa Vista property, Pope says.
The rest of the 80,000 daily vehicle trips from Phases I and II will be competing for Westside roadway and freeway space with the rest of us, Pope says.
Playa Vista Phase II is expected to generate more than 24,000 vehicle trips per workday, Pope claims.
Pope says that for Playa Vista to reduce its impact on the Westside, Playa Vista (based on the EIR) will have to:
n add four new buses in Culver City;
n extend a Playa Vista internal shuttle to Fox Hills Mall;
n contribute to bus-synchronized traffic signals along Lincoln Boulevard that may someday be used by Los Angeles Metro buses;
n add turn lanes at one or two Westside intersections, and
n widen a four-block-long section of Centinela Boulevard.
The Playa Vista EIR lists 95 other development projects that are being developed concurrently with Playa Vista in the area.
While these projects do bring more housing to the Westside, they also bring ten million square feet of new office space, enough for 50,000 to 60,000 new office workers, plus uncounted industry space and jobs, Pope claims.
The City of Los Angeles says that, based on history, some approved projects will never be built, and therefore the impacts shown on maps represent “worst-case scenarios,” he adds.
The point is, these projects could all be built and we would be stuck with the “worst-case scenario,” Pope says.
“But unlike airlines that overbook, we can’t postpone our commute to work until the next freeway arrives,” Pope said.
The combined impact of these projects has been mapped by Pope, and his 2003 Westside Intersection Level of Service Map shows recent levels of service of Westside streets and intersections.
“Levels of Service” is the criterion cities use to measure the impact of their streets and intersections. Grades — similar to those used by schools — are assigned to intersections to show how well an intersection can accommodate the traffic impacting the intersection.
A grade of “D” means drivers might have to sit through one extra green light before getting through the intersection.
A grade of “E” means sitting through two extra green lights at the intersection, and an “F” grade means that traffic waiting to get through that intersection is backed up all the way to and beyond the prior intersection, creating a potential gridlock situation,” said Pope. “It can take five minutes or more to get through one of those ‘F’ situations, assuming of course that it does not gridlock.
“If it does, well, use your cell phone to order a pizza and hope it can be delivered on foot.”
Average commuter travel speeds under these conditions were less than 14 miles per hour on many commuter arterials in 2003, Pope says.
Pope’s 2010 Westside Intersection Level of Service Map shows the expected levels of service after the 97 projects listed in the Playa Vista Phase II EIR are completed.
“Your guess is as good as mine on travel speeds under these projected 2010 conditions,” said Pope.
The city does not consider travel speeds, just ratios of vehicle demand to intersection capacity, “but I’m guessing well under ten miles per hour” would result, Pope said.
Pope said the maps he uses to measure these ratios are color-enhanced pages from the Playa Vista Phase II EIR.
Traffic maps and statistics can be found online,