Responding to concerns of some local community members, the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey has rejected a Los Angeles Department of Transportation proposal to widen a section of Sepulveda Boulevard in Westchester.
The city Department of Transportation has proposed to widen the east side of Sepulveda Boulevard between 74th and 76th Streets by narrowing the sidewalk from 18 feet to 12 feet.
The $500,000 project is “intended to smooth out the roadway and improve the alignment” of Sepulveda, as well as beautify the area and improve the cracked sidewalks, said Ken Husting, a city Department of Transportation engineer.
But some Westchester residents are strongly against any widening of Sepulveda and say the extra six feet of roadway could allow for another traffic lane. City transportation officials deny claims that an extra lane will be created.
The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey Planning and Land Use Committee had previously opposed the widening project and recommended that the full Neighborhood Council do the same.
The Neighborhood Council members in attendance at the meeting Tuesday, June 6th, voted unanimously to oppose the Sepulveda widening project.
“The community feels that it doesn’t matter whether it’s three feet or 30 feet, they don’t want any widening of Sepulveda,” Neighborhood Council president Gwen Vuchsas said.
When the city proposed to widen parts of Sepulveda a few years ago, many residents came out against the idea, and they “haven’t changed their mind” since then, Vuchsas said.
“This is absolutely for the capacity of cars and bringing cars through,” resident Ellie Holmes told the Neighborhood Council. “Everyone in this room wants those sidewalks fixed, but we don’t need to get them fixed for widening.”
Resident Mary Holyfield agreed, saying there is no need to widen Sepulveda. “It’s not the best use for the money,” she said. “Sepulveda is beautiful enough and wide enough.”
Many community members at the meeting also argued that the project would allow for an additional traffic lane and could have potential pollution effects on the area.
“There’s no question that the amount of space created is the equivalent of a lane,” Neighborhood Council member David Voss said.
But Husting said those arguments are not valid.
“We’re not adding capacity as far as an additional lane,” Husting said. “If you keep traffic flowing, you’re actually reducing pollution. Modifying the curb line will help traffic flow smoother.”
The proposed project entails straightening the road line on the east side of Sepulveda and replacing the sidewalk with a meandering sidewalk, which will help create additional width for a bicycle lane, Husting said.
The proposal also includes beautification work, such as replacing trees and planting.
The plan to beautify the area is one of the reasons that Westchester Streetscape Improvement Association members say they support the project.
“The community has voiced their opinions and said they wanted the sidewalks repaired and beautification,” Streetscape Association president Barbara Musella said. “We felt we would get that through this and we think it would be a really nice project.”
But despite the efforts to beautify Sepulveda, some community members say the project would only lead to Westchester being used as a passage to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
“Ultimately we have a community that doesn’t want this, despite the best intentions of the Streetscape Association,” Voss said. “We don’t want to see traffic driven through the community to get to the airport. We are not going to be a pathway to LAX, now or ever.”
Husting said he respects the Neighborhood Council’s opposition to the project, but that the decision is ultimately up to City Councilman Bill Rosendahl and the City Council.