Widening and realignment of Lincoln Boulevard (State Route 1) between La Tijera Boulevard and Loyola Marymount University by Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) beginning in late May and con- struction of a Starbucks coffee shop at 83rd Street and Lincoln Boulevard are expected to cause massive traffic problems, a lack of street parking and potential business losses to local businesses, said members of the Lincoln Boulevard Streetscape ad hoc committee at their meeting Wednesday, May 16th, at the Bristol Farms CafÈ in Westchester.
Members of the Lincoln Boulevard Streetscape ad hoc committee — some of whom are members of the Westchester/ Playa del Rey Neighborhood Council — say their concern is that the business owners who will be most affected are not aware of the traffic and parking impacts or the effect on their businesses that these two projects will have.
The widening and realignment project is Phase II of a Caltrans Lincoln Boulevard improvement project to provide an additional northbound lane along with traffic signal modifications, with construction lasting approximately 18 months, said Caltrans project manager Gabe Hamidi at a meeting earlier in this month.
Jerry McKibben, owner of Loyola Automotive, at 8314 Lincoln Blvd., asked that the alley behind his business and the other businesses on the north side of Lincoln Boulevard be designated as a one-way alley for use by these businesses and drop-off of cars for repair at his facility during the construction period.
McKibben said that the alley is used as a cut-through route for commuters and it has become a danger to both commuters and pedestrians.
STARBUCKS PROJECT — The Starbucks coffee shop project will involve the construction, use and maintenance of a 1,400-square-foot retail coffee and beverage store, to operate between 5 a.m. and midnight daily, according to zoning administration documentation.
A public hearing for the Starbucks development was held February 22nd in West Los Angeles, and specified deviations requested in a conditional use permit were approved by the zoning administration, but the decision is being appealed.
The specified deviations approved by the zoning administration are:
— operating hours from 5 a.m. to midnight;
— permit a three-foot masonry wall in lieu of the minimum six feet required within 15 feet of either side of the alley access driveway;
— permit a three-foot masonry wall along the 83rd Street frontage;
— provide less than the required five feet of landscaping along the Lincoln Boulevard frontage;
— provide a two-foot-six-inch area of landscaping along the alley in lieu of the required five feet; and
— provide less than 50 percent transparent windows along Lincoln Boulevard and 83rd Street.
The zoning administration also requires that unloading and deliveries to the Starbucks “shall be made from Lincoln Boulevard and away from residential uses to reduce early-morning impacts along the alley, as well as signs posted in the alley at 83rd Street limiting turns to right turns only.”
A minimum of 25 parking spaces “shall be maintained on the site,” and all lighting shielded and directed onto the site with no floodlighting located that would shine on adjacent residential property, according to zoning administration documentation.
The project is under appeal for several reasons:
— street construction by Caltrans that would restrict Lincoln Boulevard to one lane in each direction;
— mandatory deliveries and unloading to the proposed new Starbucks required to park on Lincoln Boulevard, effectively eliminating one lane of traffic;
— loss of street parking for local businesses for over a year, with customers required to use the alley and only make right-hand turns onto Lincoln Boulevard.
WESTCHESTER MOBILITY ACTION COMMITTEE — The subject of the Phase II Lincoln Boulevard widening project was also the topic at a meeting the next day, Thursday, May 17th, of the Westchester Mobility Action Committee, attended by Yunus Ghausi, the Caltrans senior transportation engineer, and Los Angeles Department of Transportation engineer Mo Blorfroshan. The meeting was held at the Westchester Community Room, at Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office in Westchester.
Isaac Lieberman, Rosendahl’s Westchester deputy, attended both meetings and said he would present Rosendahl with all of the information discussed at these meetings.
Ghausi said a modification of the curb lane peak hours on the west side of Lincoln Boulevard will be put into effect, changing no-parking hours back to 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. instead of the existing 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., which is detrimental to businesses that rely on customers parking on the street.
Signs for the peak hour times have been ordered and will be given to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to place on Lincoln Boulevard, Ghausi said.
The actual construction of Lincoln Boulevard is planned to be one block at a time, leaving every other block open, with the exception of the median, which would remain closed off for its entire length during the construction project, Ghausi said.
Two feet is to be taken from the sidewalks on both sides of Lincoln Boulevard, with driveway entrances being reconfigured, Ghausi said.
The current eight-foot-wide sidewalks are to be reduced to five feet, and the ten-foot median is to be narrowed.
Some Lincoln Boulevard Streetscape ad hoc committee members had questioned the efficacy of working on the median first, and proposed that the curb lanes be completed first. Committee chair Stephen Bentley attended the second meeting and raised that question with Ghausi.
Ghausi said he would discuss this possibility with the Caltrans construction department and they could work with the contractor.
The contractor might use a different methodology in planning the project and might agree that work on the curb lanes should come first, said Ghausi, promising an open dialogue with his construction department on the issue.
Two northbound and two southbound lanes on Lincoln Boulevard are planned be in use during the construction project, with some closure on the curb lanes during construction, Ghausi said.
Apartment buildings on the north side of Lincoln Boulevard near 83rd Street have an extremely narrow sidewalk, and trucks parked in the driveways protrude into the street, one meeting attendee observed.
Blorfroshan noted that parking in a driveway and blocking the sidewalk is illegal and car owners could be ticketed.
Another meeting attendee suggested that the sidewalk should be narrowed in front of these apartment buildings and exclusively for the use of apartment residents, with regular pedestrian traffic concentrated on the opposite side of Lincoln Boulevard.
Ghausi said Caltrans is concerned about the impact on businesses and will address alternate ways to facilitate the project that will cause the least impact on these businesses.
The Furama Hotel mixed-use redevelopment project will also be affected by the Lincoln Boulevard widening project, and part of the mitigation of that project will involve Lincoln Boulevard reconstruction and signal light reconfiguration.
Decron Properties, the owner of the Furama Hotel was contacted and Bentley advised Ghausi that Decron officials wanted to meet with Caltrans officials to discuss the widening project because of this dual impact so that work would not be duplicated on Lincoln Boulevard.