11 transportation ideas for Council District 13

Like Council District 5 (where I live), Council District 13 under Mitch O’Farrell has been a progressive transportation desert. Mitch didn’t build a single protected bike lane in his 9 years in office, and in nearly every instance ignored the City’s Mobility Plan 2035. In fact, it wasn’t until about 2 months before the election that he introduced motions at council asking for protected bike lanes in the district. Amazingly, Healthy Streets LA got more signatures than Mitch got votes in the primary — it was the district we got the most signatures in, period.

With transit-friendly Hugo Soto-Martinez, there is now an opportunity to make real progress in CD13. Here are some ideas:

A Streets For All rendering of what protected bike lanes could look like on Santa Monica.

1/ Put protected bike lanes on Santa Monica Bl. They already exist East of Virgil (to Sunset, where they could connect to a future Sunset4All), and West of Sweetzer in West Hollywood. West Hollywood is currently studying how to put in protected bike lanes on its stretch of Santa Monica Bl, which ends at La Brea; from there, it’s technically a state highway (Highway 2) until the 101, and then City of LA from the 101 to Sunset. So the opportunity in the district would be to implement bike lanes from the 101 to Virgil and then ask Caltrans to do its portion (they usually to defer to what cities want) — the Mobility Plan 2035 calls for bike lanes on Santa Monica. If this was done, and West Hollywood follows through on this vision, we would have bike lanes from Sunset all the way to the 405. And with the Ohio connection going in, it would give us safe bike lanes from Silver Lake to the beach!

Rendering of Sunset4All, a project Streets For All has long supproted.

2/ Put true support and resources behind Sunset4All and let’s get a two-way cycletrack on Sunset. Work with newly elected transit-friendly Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez to get the bike lanes all the way to Union Station. There’s a huge amount of community support for this project, and the best part is it can be done with very minimal tradeoffs (minimal parking loss and no vehicle traffic lanes lost).

The Hyperion Bridge in 1928.

3/ Fix the Hyperion Bridge project. LA’s Bureau of Engineering is working on a project to seismically retrofit the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. But it’s a flawed plan — it only has a sidewalk on one side of the street (!) and unprotected bike lanes. If you thought the 6th St Bridge debacle was bad, Hyperion will make that project look like a dream. Hopefully it isn’t too late for Councilmember Soto-Martinez to step in. While sidewalks on both sides were an option, and despite LADOT’s traffic study from about 10 years ago showed that there was less of a need for so many vehicle traffic lanes going into the Valley, Mitch O’Farrell and David Ryu still worked together to kill that option. But now with Hugo in CD13 and Nithya in CD4, we have transit champions on both sides of the bridge who could make adding a sidewalk on both sides a priority, as well as physically protecting bike lanes on a bridge where cars regularly go 50mph+. We also need to add additional bike lanes on Hyperion and Glendale so people can actually get to and from the bridge’s new bike lanes. Lastly, since this bridge goes over Caltrans right-of-way, “highway design guidelines” will apply; this includes 12' lanes, turn radii that encourage speeding, highway style crash barriers that intrude into the sidewalk, and other awful things. But the City of LA can ask for an exception to these — it would take a Councilmember speaking up and asking it to do so. A bridge connecting two local streets should not be built like a highway, just because it happens to go over one.

4/ Create bike lanes that connect to the LA River Bike Path. It’s amazing that we don’t have a single bike lane that actually connects people to the LA River Bike Path — especially given Metro’s $300M+ project to fill in the gaps and have a continuous facility from Canoga Park to Long Beach. Many of the connectivity posibilities are in CD13. Mitch helped kill a proposed bike lane on Fletcher in 2017 — a street that is on the City’s High Injury Network (6% of streets that make up 70% of injuries and deaths). Resurrecting this project would be a great start. Fletcher (and Glendale) are also on the Mobility Plan 2035 as protected bike lanes.

LADOT rendering from 2017 of what Temple St could be.

5/ Fix Temple St. In 2018, Mitch worked with Gil “Road Kill” Cedillo to kill a road safety project on Temple St — also on the City’s High Injury Network. Again, now with Gil out and Eunisses in, there’s a real opportunity to make progress on this project. Temple is one of the most dangerous streets in town and now with new blood at council, it doesn’t have to stay that way. LADOT could dust off their plans and move forward with new political will.

Councilmember Raman riding on the new protected bike lanes. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog.

6/ Add protected bike lanes to the CD13 portion of Riverside Dr. This year, taking advantage of repaving, CD4 implemented protected bike lanes on their portion of Riverside Dr, implementing the mobility plan—and creating the first bike lanes that lead into Griffith Park. Of course, Mitch didn’t do anything. The bike lanes should be extended into CD13, on Riverside Dr and Stadium Way — which the Mobility Plan 2035 also calls for.

Uplift Melrose. Rendering by StreetsLA.

7/ Melrose has a protected bike lane on it in the Mobility Plan, let’s implement it. While Paul Koretz killed Uplift Melrose, Councilmember-elect Katy Yaroslavsky has committed multiple times to implementing Uplift Melrose. Once that’s done, the only portion left East of Fairfax will be Melrose between Highland and Virgil (where Melrose ends) — all in CD13. Melrose zig-zags between a 4 lane street (with no center turn lane) and a 2 lane street East of Vermont and West of La Cienega. With Santa Monica Bl to the north and Beverly Bl to the south, Melrose doesn’t have to also be a major “highway” in our city. We should put protected bike lanes on the street, implementing the City’s already adopted Mobility Plan 2035.

Gensler’s rendering for “Heart of Hollywood.”

8/ Let’s get private cars off of Hollywood Bl. Hollywood Bl between La Brea and Highland is already closed nearly half the year for movie premiers; the one transportation thing Mitch got almost right was a complete rethink of Hollywood Bl he called “Heart of Hollywood.” I say almost right because while he removed parking off the street (Hollywood has an absurd number of off street parking spaces available) and added a wider sidewalk and protected bike lanes, he still left private car access on the street. This is a recipe for disaster — if there were no private cars allowed, cut through traffic would divert to Franklin or Sunset. Instead, it’s going to create gridlock, including for buses and Metro’s line 217. This iconic street has a subway underneath and good parallel major streets. One of the most famous streets in the world shouldn’t be a car sewer. I’d keep Mitch’s plan but remove private car access. Buses only. That would allow for even more pedestrian, plaza, and park space.

A rendering of “Hollywood Central Park” — created by caping the 101 freeway.

9/ Support Hollywood Central Park! I’m so excited about the potential for Hollywood Central Park, a proposed freeway cap on the sunken portion of the 101 through Hollywood. Hollywood was decimated by the creation of the 101 many decades ago, and this is an opportunity to fix that. It’s also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get major funding from the Fed’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program. While this project is too large for a single council office or even the city to do on its own, political support is key. And with Caltrans on board, all that’s left is finding the funding to kick off what would be a transformational project and a model for the nation to follow to heal the historic wounds of freeway expansion through our cities.

A Streets For All rendering of what Fountain could look like.

10/ Add bike lanes on Fountain. With a vote scheduled for this Monday, West Hollywood is hopefully about to add protected bike lanes on its portion of Fountain from La Cienega to La Brea. Fountain is currently a Class 3 Bike Route (useless sharrows on the ground) and it’s the only sort of safe connection between Silverlake and East Hollywood/Mid City West. But it’s still dangerous and mimmicking West Hollywood could create a consistent, safe East-West corridor between La Cienega and Hyperion.

A concept rendering for Hollywood Plaza by Streets For All

11/ Support Hollywood Plaza. While still in early phases, Hollywood Plaza is a proposed pedestrian plaza on Hollywood Bl between Vermont and Rodney (1 block). It’s amazing that Los Angeles has close to zero pedestrian plazas. While Santa Monica Promenade is wildly successful and generates over 15% of Santa Monica’s sales tax revenue, LA has not created any large scale plazas. Pedestrianized space is wildly popular where it is created, and this 1 block is a unique opportunity. There is no bus line on this portion of Hollywood Bl, and there are many restaurants and bars that could benefit from additional outdoor seating and maybe even some live music. This project came out of Streets For All’s RethinkLA program, and is currently supported by the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council. We are currently doing outreach to the businesses and BID.

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Michael Schneider

Tali, Mika & Sofi’s dad, Katerina's husband, LA native. Founder, Service. Founder, Streets For All. Board Member, Mid City West Neighborhood Council.