Called out by the LA Times for being anti-safe streets, Councilman Gil Cedillo has scheduled four street design community meetings 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.
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.