Despite Vista Del Mar reversal, residents sue the city and neighborhood council calls for restoring lanes

A week after a group of residents made good on their threat to sue the city over traffic lane reductions in Playa del Rey, the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa officially called for restoring Culver and Jefferson boulevards to their former traffic patterns.

On Tuesday the neighborhood council voted 15-2 to ask L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin in writing that the lanes be restored — the rebuke coming despite Bonin’s intention to form a task force of residents, business owners and other stakeholders to hold public hearings on the lane closures.

The letter’s final draft excluded changes to Pershing Drive after several residents spoke in support of traffic-calming measures on that street, citing safety improvements and less congestion than when the lane reductions fist took effect in May.

At least 150 people turned out for the meeting, 80 of them contributing public comment. More than half the speakers opposed the lane reductions, many of them complaining about traffic congestion and negative impacts on local businesses.

“In the history of our neighborhood council, no single issue has energized members of our community to become active and involved in such significant numbers. Although perhaps a well-intentioned effort to increase safety, it is impossible to overstate the frustration currently experienced by the majority of residents and stakeholders in Playa del Rey,” reads the letter introduced by council member David Voss.

The city has already reversed highly unpopular lane reductions on Vista Del Mar, striking a deal with L.A. County to move street parking to the beach in order to resolve liability concerns that stemmed from fatal vehicle-pedestrian collisions.

The Safe Streets for Playa del Rey Initiative that impacted Culver, Jefferson and Pershing grew out of local traffic safety concerns.

“This did not come out of left field. This happened with a lot of community input,” Playa del Rey resident Susan Bowling, who participated in several of those discussions, told neighborhood council members during public comment.

Bonin has publicly apologized for inconveniences caused by the Safe Streets for Playa del Rey Initiative and promised regular re-evaluations of the project’s impacts, especially now via the forthcoming neighborhood task force.

But that doesn’t satisfy Keep L.A. Moving, the grassroots committee that filed suit last week alleging the misuse of county Measure M funds to implement traffic calming measures rather than repair streets.

“Measure M was sold to the public as a promise to fix our roads, not make them worse,” Keep L.A. Moving Director Karla Mendelson said.

— Gary Walker