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Westside nonprofit blasts LA street plan in lawsuit

Crews have begun chipping away at the green paint outlining bicycle lanes on Spring Street between Cesar Chavez and 9th Street. The original green lanes were part of the effort to increase ridership, but film productions found the color distracting and asked the city to change it.
Crews have begun chipping away at the green paint outlining bicycle lanes on Spring Street between Cesar Chavez and 9th Street. The original green lanes were part of the effort to increase ridership, but film productions found the color distracting and asked the city to change it.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

When the Los Angeles City Council approved Mobility Plan 2035, it envisioned a free-flowing network of bike lanes, transit routes and roadways that would make the city safer for bikes, motorists and pedestrians.

However, a nonprofit Westside group called Fix the City has filed a lawsuit against the city, saying that its grand plan for mobility would actually have negative impacts on the lives of L.A. residents.

The lawsuit contends that L.A.'s street plan would actually increase congestion, which would then boost air pollution. The group also says the plan poses a problem to public safety, as congestion and other issues would increase the reaction time of emergency first responders, said Beverly Palmer, the attorney for Fix the City.

Palmer also said that the L.A. city charter requires that any amendments to the mobility plan leading up to its August approval needed to go through the mayor's office and the city planning commission — which didn't happen, as the Council approved the plan outright.

"It's in their laws, and they ignored it," she said.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who supports the plan, said in a statement that Fix the City's lawsuit acknowledges that residents are "desperate to get out of mind-numbing traffic," and that "the best way to do that is by providing people a range of transportation choices so they are not forced into using an automobile on gridlocked streets," the Los Angeles Times reports.

The lawsuit takes shots at the city's environmental review of the plan, saying its entire premise regarding greenhouse gases was "questionable," while also claiming that the review reflects "a failure to employ the proper factors to analyze environmental impacts."

Naomi Iwasaki, a policy analyst with the nonprofit Community Health Councils and another supporter of the plan, said the lawsuit is "applying its logic in a way that's contrary to the plan," in an email to KPCC.

"Providing bus-only lanes and robust bicycle facilities will make transit and active transportation more feasible and attractive modes of transportation. Reducing the amount of vehicle miles traveled will in turn reduce GHG emissions," she said. "And discouraging excessively high vehicle speeds on streets that are next to homes, schools, and are crossed by pedestrians is one of the most important steps to improving traffic safety."

Iwasaki also contested the suit's assertion that the streets plan would make traffic worse. 

"Traffic congestion is not being created by the Mobility Plan. It exists in Los Angeles under the current 15-year-old citywide transportation policies that focus disproportionately on car travel," she said. "Many drivers would likely opt for other options if they are offered alternatives that are safe, accessible and convenient," which the Mobility Plan does, she said.

You can check out the lawsuit below:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2394582-fix-the-city-mobility-lawsuit.html