The Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) unanimously passed a motion with a recommendation to the Los Angeles City Council that a street furniture vendor to the city consider redesign of its proposed transit shelters to prevent a net loss of seating when these shelters replace existing bus benches.
The unanimous vote took place Tuesday, April 8th, at the Mar Vista Community Council meeting.
The transit shelters include Public Amenity Kiosks (PAKs) and are part of the Coordinated Street Furniture Program, which is a long-term franchise agreement between the City of Los Angeles and CBS/Decaux, LLC.
The Public Amenity Kiosk is a free-standing, three-sided or two-sided structure that would contain either one or two advertising panels and one panel available for a public amenity such as community/city service announcements, posters, maps or other local information, according to city officials.
The city grants CBS/Decaux the exclusive right to install and maintain its street furniture in exchange for the right to sell and display advertising that is displayed on the three-sided kiosk, with one side for the use of community/city information, according to the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services.
The city is guaranteed $150 million in revenue from the program over the 20-year term of the contract — initiated on December 21st, 2001 and expiring on December 20th, 2021 — with no cost to the city and CBS/Decaux funding the capital costs for fabrication and installation of all 3,350 pieces, as well as continued upkeep and maintenance in all 15 City Council districts, city officials said.
Required approvals before street furniture is placed include each City Council office, eight city departments and agencies and the adjacent property owner. Each City Council office can mandate that proposed sites be reviewed by Neighborhood Councils, homeowner associations and other community-based organizations, according to city documentation. The Mar Vista Community Council is the certified Neighborhood Council for the area.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl — who represents the 11th Council District — said he has sole discretion on spending the funds apportioned to his district, but he consults with the community as to how the money is spent.
The Mar Vista Community Council, strongly opposes the placement of the PAKs “because they are out of character with the look and feel of our neighborhoods and because they provide no positive service to the community except for the revenue stream generated by the advertising.”
The council does support the placement of transit shelters to encourage those who use mass transit, said Tom Ponton, chair of the Mar Vista Recreation and Open Space Enhancement Committee.
Also of concern to the community council is that the new transit shelters would have room for only three people to be seated, but a CBS/Decaux representative has advised that the company is required to leave equal space to comply with ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) regulations.
The typical transit shelter will be 12 to 14 feet in length, 4.5 feet wide and 9.5 feet high.
The Mar Vista Community Council stated that “although the council strongly opposes the placement of PAKs within our boundaries, and we reject PAK placements proposed by CBS/ Decaux on February 15th, we would accept placement of PAKs at the following locations if the City of Los Angeles insists that equitable distribution of PAKs to all Neighborhood Council areas necessitates that MVCC accept a very limited number of PAKs:
— south side of National Boulevard between the 405 (San Diego) Freeway exit and Sepulveda Boulevard (street side of Ross Dress for Less);
— west side of Sawtelle Boulevard, north of National Boulevard, south of Webster Middle School property (close to current recycling center);
— east side of Sepulveda Boulevard, south of Palms Boulevard, and before Burger King (by Yoku Yoku Yogurt Shop); and
— north side of Venice Boulevard, east of Centinela Avenue and west of Ocean View Avenue (by WaMu/CVS) and no closer than 30 feet from the corner.
The Mar Vista Community Council strongly opposes the placement of any PAKs along National Boulevard between Sawtelle Boulevard and Centinela Avenue, especially at the intersection of Barrington Avenue/National Boulevard and on median strips.
CBS/Decaux had suggested ten possible sites for new transit shelters/kiosks, with five of them proposed on westbound Venice Boulevard, four proposed on eastbound Venice Boulevard and one proposed on westbound National Boulevard west of Sawtelle Boulevard at the Rite-Aid drug store.
Another primary concern of the Mar Vista council is that the PAKs could start using digital advertising, and Rosendahl said there is that potential.
Regarding the placement of the street furniture, all Neighborhood Councils and other community groups were consulted, and some took an active role and others didn’t, said Nate Kaplan, Rosendahl’s communications deputy.
Kaplan said the public amenity is provided by the transit shelters for individuals using mass transit, and the community has the opportunity to have public information on one side of the kiosk.
FranÁois Nion, co-marketing director of CBS/Decaux, said community groups can contact him to have information added to the kiosks, but he needs advance notice of one week of the material to be added to the kiosks and the number of kiosks that would be involved.
The Bureau of Street Services said there are no contractual requirements stipulating even distribution throughout the 15 council districts, but there is an effort to “ensure some parity in the distribution” of the street furniture.
Restrictions to the type of advertising on the kiosks include prohibition of “tobacco-related products, hard liquor and distasteful or offensive advertisement within 500 feet of schools or houses of worship,” states city documentation.
Another concern of the Mar Vista Community Council is that old bus benches placed by a former street services contractor years ago may still be under contract and would not be removed, resulting in the limiting of new transit shelters or the possibility of having the old benches and the new transit shelter with advertising on both.
Kaplan said it is Rosendahl’s understanding that the contract with the former vendor of street furniture has expired.