Think that Pot Hole Will Be Fixed Soon? Think Again
Council Committee votes to use its share of Measure M to reduce traffic-related deaths
With the city expected to reap 10s of millions of dollars annually for transportation projects expected through a recently voter-approved sales tax increase, a Los Angeles City Council committee voted March 29 to spend the majority of its share of the funding on reducing traffic-related deaths rather than on its crumbling side streets.
Transportation Committee Chair Mike Bonin made the recommendation, calling for 60% of the funds to go toward Mayor Eric Garcetti’s”Vision Zero” plan, which was enacted in 2015 to eliminate traffic deaths in the city by 2025.
If eventually approved by the full 15-member City Council, the proposal would dramatically increase the funding for Garcetti’s plan, which this year will receive $3 million.
The Vision Zero plan centers around streets, called the “High Injury Network,” that have a higher incidence of severe and fatal collisions and prioritizes those streets for safety improvements.
According to city officials, 260 people died in 2016 in traffic-related deaths in Los Angeles, the highest per capita of any majorcity in the nation.
Bonin said the more people know about Vision Zero the more they will support it over having the pothole fixed on their street.
“I think most people don’t want their children and their grandparents to die crossing the street, he said. “I get a lot of calls about sidewalks. I get a lot of calls about pot holes. When I get a call that someone got killed crossing the street, it’s a different intensity. It’s a whole different call.”
Los Angeles County voters last November passed ballot Measure M, a sales tax expected to raise $120 billion over 40 years for public transit. Part of the measure allows cities within the county to spend the funds on their own projects.
According to a Los Angeles city staff report, Los Angeles will receive $42 million from Measure M for the 2017-18 fiscal year and almost $59 million the following year.
The committee’s vote trumped recommendations from the city’s Chief Administrative Officer and the Chief Legislative Analyst that 2/3rds of the money should instead go toward repairing the city’s streets rated to be in “D” and “F” condition.
Los Feliz, Hancock Park and Silver Lake have a high propensity of such poorly graded streets.
Bonin’s proposal was passed by a 3-2 vote, nullifying the staff’s and councilmembers Bob Blumenfield and Paul Koretz recommendations that the city’s 15 different council districts should instead split an equal share of the Measure M money.
Koretz and Councilmember David Ryu (CD4) voted against Bonin’s proposal.
Ryu stated he had encouraged voters in his district to vote for Measure M because it would help fix their worst streets.
But other councilmembers were enthusiastic about Bonin’s proposal.
Councilman Jose Huizar joked: “You had me at hello.”
Bonin’s proposal also seeks to dedicate 10% of the money for upgrades and expansion of bicycle infrastructure, 20% for median island and curb extension improvements and 10% for sidewalk repair on the streets identified as those most dangerous.
“I have D and F streets, but I have communities in my district that don’t even have the bare necessities: a sidewalk, a safe crosswalk, a traffic signal,” said councilmember Nury Martinez, who represents the northeast San Fernando Valley. “We are simply sayingwe want to be able to walk our kids to school safely without dying.”
According to Bonin, Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to raise $5.2 billion annually to fix roads through hiking gas taxes and vehicle fees could help fix Los Angeles’s poor streets. The governor’s plan was announced March 29.
Garcetti’s Vision Zero plan points to a number of examples of improvements that have worked, including a scramble crosswalk at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, added in November 2015, that has resulted in zero deaths and serious injuries since it wasinstalled.
It’s not clear how many fatalities there were at that site before the change.
The plan also calls for more turn signals, a reduction of lanes in certain areas to make way for the addition of a center turning lane and an increased focus on speed enforcement.