|Questions about the Olympic Pico Plan
These questions were posed to Mr. John Fisher,
Los Angeles Department of Transportation
* Note these answers were taken from the audio recording of the meeting. It does not necessarily express the opinion of the WNC.
Q In cities where this has been tried, has it been successful in reducing traffic flow problems? What evidence do you have that this will work?
A To the best of our knowledge, this has not been tried anywhere before. We tested the concept on October 2 and 3 from Centinella to Ave of the Stars and found the results promising. We also tried it from Ave.of Stars to La Cienga but because of inconsistencies in peak period parking restriction, it did not work.
Q As I understand the proposal, parking on Pico will be eliminated. What is the city’s solution for replacing any lost parking for businesses?
A Parking will not be eliminated. This is a good question and a sensitive one. We have calculated all available parking in the area within a half a block of businesses and have determined that only a small part will actually see a deficit. We believe that businesses along Pico will survive and that people will adjust to the change. We are looking into the expansion of existing public parking lots. We believe this is our best effort to provide you with a near term traffic relief proposal.
Q I am the owner of a business in this neighborhood for 60 years. How are you going to handle getting customers in my establishment for dinner during peak hours when parking out front on Pico will be restricted?
A Each business has a unique situation and we will look into providing you possible side street drop off/valet areas.
Q On what basis will LADOT declare Phase I and II successful or not? What are the metrics you will use?
A Our two primary goals are to improve traffic flow and reduce cut through traffic in the residential areas. We have detectors throughout the area and we will be able to measure how traffic is flowing and if there are any unforeseen negative effects. It is our plan to address these negative effects through traffic mitigation measures.
Q Is the success or failure of this experiment going to impact plans for future development in the area?
A We live in a large city and growth is going to happen with or without this plan. I can’t control development, that’s not my department. My job is to keep traffic flowing as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Q How will the new timing of lights affect pedestrian crossings at Pico and Olympic?
A No time will be taken away from pedestrian crossings. We will also be installing count down signals for pedestrians.
Q Do other areas, like Beverly Hills support this plan?
A Yes, Beverly Hills officials are receptive to the idea.
Pico Boulevard does not pass through Beverly Hills.
Q How will people get to and from the 10 freeway from Century City?
A It is our hope that people will move through the area and pick up the 10 further along. So if you are in Century City and want to go East on the 10, you take Pico to San Vicente to Venice and get on the 10 at Crenshaw. If you want to go West on the 10, you take Olympic to Centinella.
Q How are you going to protect North/South streets like Little Overland from becoming overloaded?
A There will be metered lefts at Little Overland and other designated streets off of Olympic and Pico. This will control the amount of cars placed on those North/South streets. We are also committed to take traffic counts before and after implementation to see if there are any cut through issues that need to be addressed.
Q From Olympic can I still go south on Overland to access the freeway?
A Yes. Anywhere there is a left turn available now you will be able to make a left with this new plan.
Q Are there left turn arrows at every street? Can I make a left from the contra lanes?
A There are left turn arrows at designated streets to encourage traffic to use those streets thus avoiding cut through traffic on smaller streets. You can make a left anywhere a left is permitted now.
Q Will the residential restricted parking be rescinded to accommodate lost parking for businesses?
A There may be some adjustment to hours of restriction, but at this time we are not in favor of removing any residential restricted parking conditions.
Q Where does Jack Weiss stand on this proposal?
A I don’t know. I can’t speak for elected officials. We are planning to go before the City Council in February.
Q I live on a smaller North /South street. How can you protect my street from excessive cut through traffic traveling at high speeds?
A We will provide any mitigation necessary to alleviate any cut through issues if we determine that this is happening.
Q Will Buses have their own designated lane? Won’t they slow traffic anyway in the right lane?
A Well, things happen but we believe this right lane has value and through consistent peak hour restrictions we will open that lane. Buses arrive every eight minutes but the rest of that time traffic will be moving.
Q What will the green arrow timing be for streets with designated lefts?
A We will meter the lefts as needed. At this time 2 cars per signal.
Q What is the point of improving traffic if we destroy the character of our neighborhood in the process?
A We don’t believe this plan will destroy the character of the neighborhood. Our goal is to improve traffic flow and protect residential neighborhoods.
Q How can we be assured that mitigations will be done? Will there be a fund? Who decides what streets need mitigation the most and is there an appeal process if mitigations are requested but turned down?
A We know that it takes so long to get mitigations approved, but we have indicated in all our meetings that we commit to high priority of implementation of any mitigation that may be needed. I am optimist that this will work, but if something that doesn’t work out the way we anticipated, we will look into our tool box and give you high priority to mitigations such as speed humps or no left turn restrictions. The Council needs to approve a mitigation fund to be set aside for this.
Q If you deem this project unsuccessful, how can we be guaranteed of its timely removal?
A We believe this plan will work. We are trying to change commuter driving patterns and in doing so, alleviate delays on Pico and Olympic. If we determine that this plan has failed however, we will remove it.
Q How do you reconcile the remediation attributed to the ACTS in previous EIR’s with this new plan and its revised signal timing.
A We can monitor traffic and control issues as they arise. With this plan we hope to change traffic patterns not just react to traffic situations.
Q I don’t recall buying a house between two freeways. I personally don’t think traffic is that bad. Who asked for your help?
A Traffic is becoming worse and worse on the Westside and travel times are increasing with each passing year. We are not turning Pico or Olympic into a freeway. We are trying to increase flow, while having traffic maintain a 25mph level.
Q In your studies, how long have you determined it will be until traffic returns to its current level? Why don’t we focus time and money on rapid/mass transit?
A It really depends on elected officials to improve mass/ rapid transit and improve highways. This plan will help flow for the next 5 years, but it is only a part of an overall plan that the City needs to keep traffic flowing.
Q Why is massive developments being approved without consideration of available resources like schools and fire? It feels like this proposal is about green lighting more development.
A Land Use is responsible for allowing any developments to occur, large or small. It is evident however, that the infrastructure has not kept pace.
Q Won’t right turns will encourage traffic through the residential neighborhoods?
A We are using the carrot and stick approach. We are facilitating left turns at designated streets as an incentive for motorists to use those streets as opposed to residential streets.
Q The cut through issue seems to be focused on well known N/S streets. What about lesser known streets?
A We believe smooth traffic flow will not encourage excessive N/S cut through on smaller streets. Left arrows on streets like Little Overland and Motor will be timed at 2 cars per signal to protect those already overburdened streets. Larger streets like Sepulveda and Beverly Glen and Westwood will have a longer left turn arrow.
Q. I am concerned about people trying to get to Temple on foot. What provisions are you making for those people?
A We are one of two cities in the nation to have what we call “Sabbath Timing”. This timing occurs sundown Friday to sundown Saturday and on Holy days. It gives the pedestrian the okay to cross with out pushing the button. This will not change.
Q What will the experience be for those traveling West on Pico and East on Olympic?
A What we want to do is give you a choice. If you go with the flow on Pico and Olympic you will be rewarded with smoother flow and a travel speed of 25mph. Going against the flow will be slightly longer wait times.
Q You talk about peak times. What about off times and weekends when cars can travel faster? How can we be assured this won’t plan won’t turn Pico and Olympic into a “freeway” where cars can travel at excessive speeds?
A The lights will be timed so if you are traveling at a higher rate of speed than 25mph you will be stopped at red lights. If you maintain a speed of 25mph you will be rewarded with green lights and an uninterrupted flow.
Q The proposed light rail is more than likely to be at grade on Overland Ave. With trains stopping the flow every time a train passes, won’t this back up traffic?
A We will be working with the Light Rail Authority to make above grade separations when safety or flow is an issue.
Q In the original One Way Proposal, Olympic was Eastbound and Pico was Westbound. Why did you switch the flow with this new proposal?
A We switch the flow because we determined that there will be less cut through traffic in the neighborhood that lies between Pico and Olympic. People will be encouraged to use the designated lefts and not make three right turns through the residential areas.
Q Why don’t you just fix the 10 freeway?
A I can’t do everything. The 10 needs to be upgraded, but there are no plans at this time.
The very last person to speak was Jay Handel,
President of the WLA Chamber of Commerce.
He summarized the meeting by stating that the audience has major concerns about this proposal and asked for John Fisher’s personal assurance that before any implementation, this plan will be fully studied and vetted and brought back to the effected Neighborhood Councils and HOA’s for review.