Celebration or Psyche-Out? Cedillo Schedules Safe Streets Meets

The cover of Metro's Call For Projects in 2015 is an inspiration compared to past covers.

The cover of Metro’s Call For Projects in 2015: has it inspired Gil Cedillo to change his anti-bike ways?

Called out by the LA Times for being anti-safe streets, Councilman Gil Cedillo has scheduled four street design community meetingsĀ  in North East Los Angeles (three this week, and one next week). Is the councilman simply trying to burnish his image or should we be celebrating a whiplash-turnaround in transportation policy? If this is a turn-around, what is the time frame we can expect street safety to improve in the area?

The meetings Cedillo has scheduled are as follows:

  • Avenue 26 & Cypress Park Gold Line Station on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 6 p.m. at LA River Center (570 W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles, CA 90065), Facebook Event link;
  • North Figueroa Corridor on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 6 p.m. at Monte Vista Elementary School (5423 Monte Vista Street, Los Angeles, CA 90042), Facebook Event link;
  • 110 Freeway Underpasses on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 6 p.m. at Salvation Army Community Center (1518 W. 11th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015);
  • Marmion Way on Monday, December 8, 2014 at 7 p.m. at Carling G. Smith Rec. Center (511 W. Avenue 46, Los Angeles CA 90065), Facebook Event link.

 

Cause for celebration? You might think that reading the flyers and the press release emailed out to the LA Times and a small number of local leaders. On the other hand, this information was made available on November 25 – that is two days before Thanksgiving and just seven days before these meetings are scheduled to take place. Cedillo’s official city web-site mentions nothing (latest event listed there is for an August of 2013 “Listening Tour”). Cedillo’s two Facebook accounts, his two twitter accounts, and his official weekly newsletter also haven’t mentioned these meetings.

A flyer produced for Cedillo's upcoming safe streets meeting for North Figueroa (the street he killed the road diet on).

A flyer produced for Cedillo’s upcoming safe streets meeting for North Figueroa (the street he killed the road diet on).

When Gil Cedillo was working to stop the North Figueroa Street road diet, his office worked hard for weeks leading up to the meetings held in mid-2014. Cedillo spent thousands of dollars on snail mail letters and phone banking to bring anti-bike voices to his meetings. Email blasts were sent to anyone in the area in his contact database in the days and weeks leading up to the meetings. His staff visited Neighborhood Councils and invited the general public and council members. Private groups associated with Cedillo canvassed North Figueroa obtaining signatures of those opposed to bike lanes – from Jesse Rosas (perennial vanity candidate for local office), to Tom Topping (editor of the Boulevard Sentinel), and a group of employees on the clock with Arroyo Vista Family Health Center.

For such a hot-button issue, there is not much notice being given for the upcoming meetings – and this from a councilman who stopped the approved, funded, and designed North Figueroa road diet because the LA Bike Plan: “[Which was] approved by the council in 2011, was developed by 1,000 people in a city of around 4 million. “That’s a very microscopic percentage of people to set an agenda,” [Cedillo] said.

You have to wonder: how many people will show up at these workshops? My guess: less than 1,000.

There is more to this series of upcoming “safe streets” meetings: the .pdf file used by Cedillo’s office has a name that sheds light on the time scale any improvements might be implemented in. The press release’s file name is “141125 MediaAdv – MetroProjects Community Workshps.pdf”. The numbers at the start of the file make enough sense as a year-month-date title to help keep things in order after multiple Media Advisories are sent out during the councilman’s term in office. The part that caught my eye is the “MetroProjects”. All of Cedillo’s district is in the Metro LA area. These meetings are primarily happening in North East LA – which can be considered part of Metro LA, but not always. “MetroProjects”, to me, is a stand in for “Metro’s Call For Projects” – which is a once-every-two-year grant program administered by Metro. They call it the “CFP” and the 2015 CFP is open for submissions.

Let’s optimistically assume that Councilman Cedillo runs his four meetings and crosses whatever input threshold he feels is necessary to make streets safer (more than 1,000 people?). Let’s also assume that his office has some plans ready to be implemented to win a Metro CFP grant (or four) and that the LADOT is able to get that grant application submitted by January 16, 2015 at 3 p.m. Next, let’s assume Metro awards the money in July and the city gets cracking. We might see changes to the streets after July of 2015 or as late as 2017 (the city has to spend the money in 2015 or apply for a 20-month extension). Best case, we’ll have another year of miserable dangerous streets and then maybe some assortment of projects to improve pedestrian and bicycle access in the district. Will this come to pass? It’s possible, but I’m guessing we’re not going to see anything come to pass in this time frame.

2017, by the way, is Cedillo’s re-election year.

Cause for celebration or a press-release psyche-out? Is Cedillo holding a set of meetings for a bunch of well thought out, ready to implement plans, to re-make neighborhood streets? Or is he simply trying to paper over his awful stance on road diets?

You can find out the answer by: attending these upcoming meetings; following this blog; or our Twitter account (@flyingpigeonla); or following the hashtag #fig4ll on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

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2 Comments

  1. nb
    Posted November 30, 2014 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Let’s hope Metro has enough sense to reject these sham projects down when they review the applications. Can the public submit letters to them urging them to turn down projects? Cedillo has a bad record with seeing transportation projects through completion (Fig bike lanes, Glassell Park transit pavilion), he certainly be trusted with scarce Metro dollars.

    Also, why would Metro award money for improvements on Fig when the street hasn’t even gone through the Great Streets public participation process? Should Metro money even go towards that at this time? Metro could award certain improvements but then the community might favor something else when it comes time to talk about the mayor’s Great Streets Initiative. CD1’s application, if awarded, could very well land-lock improvements on Fig.

    If this were a 180 flip in Cedillo’s position on safe streets, surely his office to contact you of all people as you have been the one representing the collective safe streets voice. Want to be proven wrong but these meetings will likely be same old, same old. Poorly made power points (remember, they get PAID to make those crappy penguin power points that make a mockery of safety).

    “Make Figueroa Safer for Everyone Except People Who Ride Bicycles” – Gil Cedillo, Louis Reyes, & Sharon Lowe

  2. Posted December 2, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Someone needs to ask councilmember Cedillo how the Dutch principle of homogeneity of mass, speed and direction is being applied when vulnerable bicycle riders are mixed in with motor vehicles on a major street. Or perhaps he would like to argue that the Dutch having one-fifth the fatality rate and one-twentieth the injury rate for bicycling compared to the U.S. is not something worth striving for in terms of safety.

    How is it that inconveniencing motor vehicle users on a less used street is somehow OK and yet increasing the time it takes them to get somewhere on a arterial street is not OK. Wouldn’t slowing down motor vehicle occupants on less used streets add to the overall time it takes to get somewhere just like it would on a major street since most motor vehicle occupants use a major street in the routes they take? Or is it expected that motor vehicle occupants are only going to be traveling on these less used streets for their entire route?

    How is it acceptable to increase the travel time for motor vehicle occupants by having walk signals, but its not acceptable to do the same thing by having bike lanes?

    Also, why is it that motor vehicle drivers are solicited their input on whether there should be safety improvements made for bicycle riders on major streets and yet that is not done when it involves pedestrian safety improvements?

    When have motorists ever had the ability to convince councilmembers to not install safety improvements for pedestrians such as sidewalks, crosswalks or walk signals because motorists are the majority?

    How is it that taking away space that could be used for motor vehicles by installing sidewalks is not something that motorists can block, but installing bike lanes is?

    And how is it that motorists cannot vote on whether delaying their movement by installing walk signals is OK with them and yet when it comes to bike lanes they are allowed to have a say on whether these are installed? Are the no less vulnerable bicycle riders somehow less important in terms of their safety than pedestrians? Is it that there are less bicycle riders than pedestrians and so therefore they don’t deserve the same sort of safety improvements that pedestrians get? If that is true, then why are the minority number of pedestrians given safety improvements when the majority are motor vehicle occupants on major streets?

    Why is it that more and more safety features are required to be installed in cars and yet there are no requirements for safety improvements for bicycle riders on city streets?

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