‘No Lane Reductions’ As Gaffey Street Redevelopment Plans Move Forward
Councilman Joe Buscaino speaks at the Gaffey Street redevelopment community meeting at the Croatian Cultural Center. (photo: Facebook/Joe Buscaino)
Lane reduction. Only these two words (and two more: bike lanes) can draw an audience as large as Thursday evening’s neighborhood council meeting to view the conceptual plan on the redevelopment of Gaffey Street as part of Los Angeles’ Great Streets Initiative.
More than 150 people were in attendance in the Croatian Culture Center on W. 7th Street to hear the presentation on the conceptual plan made by representatives from Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI), RRM Design Group, and Fehr & Peers (transportation consultant).
Applause and sighs of relief rippled through the room when Councilman Joe Buscaino stated that one of the original ideas of lane reduction on Gaffey will not be going forward due to overwhelming public sentiment against it.
“Thanks to all the community feedback, no bulb-outs will be installed as they would have otherwise called for lane reduction north of 5th Street,” Kate Mayerson of LANI reiterated with the meeting attendees.
What will go forward, however, are plans to beautify Gaffey using the $1.7 million proposed fund to plant trees, bus shelters, benches and trash cans to enable the street to be more inviting. It’s a very small part of the overall budget, which will cost tens of millions of dollars and many years, possibly decades, to complete.
“We have applied for the $1.7 million funding from Metro Call for Project and we are waiting to hear back [regarding its acceptance],” Mayerson explained. Metro Call for Project funding is the financial source for the beautification plans.
As the first executive order by Mayor Garcetti, Gaffey Street is one of 15 streets chosen to be beautified as part of the Great Streets Initiative launched in June 2014 aimed at “revitalizing key community corridors” in which residents and visitors could feel safe to meet, shop and hang out with their friends and families, similar to Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade but with cars allowed to transit through.
Miguel Nuñez of Fehr & Peers, the transportation consultant, shared another piece of news that was music to the residents’ ears: Bike lanes will not be added. “We considered many ideas for Gaffey, such as reversible lanes to alleviate heavy traffic times and interchange modification to the 110 Freeway… and bike lanes will definitely not be implemented.”
Four key factors for how to improve Gaffey were presented by Tony Keith, landscape architect from RRM Design Group. The current conceptual plan speaks to the elements of Gaffey being urban, having community identity, inducing a place of safety, and enabling economic development. Among the features to be included are inviting sidewalk furniture like benches, public art, way-finding signage, area branding signage, street-side dining and seating, pedestrian lighting and small center medians.
“All forms of transportation – cars, bikes and buses – will be optimized. We are suggesting permeable paving to prevent much debris and rain from getting into the storm drain and to allow the water to re-enter the soil, which would be a sustainable attribute,” Keith explained.
The Q&A segment of the meeting clearly showed divisive sentiments split between supporting Gaffey moving forward as one of the first in Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative and those opposing it due to concerns over increased traffic and no tangible solutions for the homelessness and crimes occurring on Gaffey.
Amid these sentiments, neighborhood council members and residents voiced their opinions. These ranged from continuing to support beautifying Gaffey by providing input on the concept at community workshops to those wanting to keep Gaffey as a fast thoroughfare for commuting purposes and that its revitalization and beautification are secondary.
The next scheduled Gaffey Street redevelopment community workshop, originally set for Thursday, January 15, has been postponed until late January or early February.