Facing Recall Effort, Legal Action, Officials Attempt Partial ‘Road Diet’ Reversal In Playa del Rey

PLAYA DEL REY (CBSLA.com) – Officials Wednesday announced that traffic lanes will be restored along Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey, one of the thoroughfares effected by the elimination of more than nine miles of lanes as part of the “road diet” plan that prompted community outrage over congestion and lost business and beach access.

The changes were announced by Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who had originally called for the elimination of traffic lanes.

“The solution on Vista del Mar was dictated by liability concerns, and was done virtually overnight,” Bonin told reporters Thursday. “The rest of the projects are going to be dictated by expertise, community input, and done judiciously.”

The road diet was put into effect in June for Playa del Rey, also known as Silicon Beach for the growing number of tech companies taking up residence in the area.

Some who work and live along the stretch in Playa Vista complained about dangerous accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists as cars zipped by at near freeway speeds.

The move eliminated traffic lanes and added a bike lane, reducing parts of Venice Boulevard, Pershing Drive, Jefferson Boulevard, Vista del Mar and Culver Street to one lane in each direction in order to slow cars and make streets safer for bike riders.

The plan, however, left area residents in an uproar.

An online petition calling for an end to the project gathered thousands of signatures and an online campaign has raised tens of thousands of dollars for its supporters to take legal action against the city and organize opposition.

The anger over the elimination of lanes prompted an effort to recall Bonin.

The changes announced Wednesday include the restoration of lanes to Vista del Mar while still allowing transportation officials to continue to address the city’s liability issues while maintaining coastal access, Bonin said.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn has “directed the county to make free or affordable parking available at the existing county beach parking lot, allowing the city to remove street parking on Vista del Mar and restore the roadway to two lanes in either direction,” according to a statement released by Bonin.

“I said that I was listening, and that I would eagerly embrace an alternative solution that met the requirements of improving safety and maintaining coastal access,” he said. “Thanks to Janice Hahn, we have that alternative.”

Hahn acknowledged that her “constituents were frustrated by the impact this project had on their daily commutes.”

“I am relieved that we were able to come together and find a solution that restores the lanes and prevents pedestrian accidents,” she said.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation will also make changes to the signal phasing and the turn at the intersection of Vista del Mar and Culver Boulevard, Bonin said.

Earlier this month, an extra traffic lane was re-added to Culver Street, between Nicholson and Jefferson Boulevard, in response to the uproar.

A newly announced Road Safety Task Force — consisting of residents, business operators and safety advocates — will evaluate and make recommendations on what Bonin calls road safety projects in the area and make a report with recommendations on whether to keep, reverse or modify such projects.

“If you are one of the many people who were inconvenienced, who were late to work, or who missed a bedtime story with your toddler, I am truly sorry,” Bonin said. “We are working to make this right.”

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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