Recapping The Final Gaffey Street Community Workshop
Tony Keith of RRM Design Group addresses the crowd at the final Gaffey Street workshop on Feb. 26, 2015. (photo: Roseanney Liu)
Aesthetics or functionality? These seem to be the two factions in the ongoing discussions about transforming Gaffey as part of the Great Streets Initiative.
Many believe that Gaffey can and will have both – be a beautiful, tree-lined street where pedestrians and shoppers can browse and hang out and be an efficient artery on which vehicles can move effortlessly and safely. But with the current state of Gaffey Street being a major thoroughfare, ridden with many traffic collisions, a large homeless presence, and a bottleneck near the 110 interchange, many residents are not as convinced. Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI), RRM Design Group and Fehr & Peers (transportation consultants) aimed to use Thursday evening’s last public conceptual workshop at the Grand Annex to convert the doubting Thomases.
“We want to use this meeting to share with the community our recommendations… we are taking their comments as we have with the previous two workshops and fold that into finalizing the conceptual plan. Next steps will include doing cost estimates, potential phasing and recommendations, and [discussing] possible grant funding to pursue. From that point onward, it’s up the council district and the city how to make this happen,” shared Tony Keith, principal architect from RRM Design Group on the Gaffey improvement.
Attendees took time before the discussion began to walk around and review the conceptualized drawings of Gaffey presented in several 3-4 block sections complete with full and asymmetrical bulb-outs, as well as traffic lanes and their widths, colorful plant palettes that include many drought-tolerant species, examples of public artwork that might be featured on the sidewalks, and silver bus benches, blue lamp posts and signage posts to signify the waterfront colors.
People enthusiastically offered their opinions to representatives from the RRM, LANI, and the traffic consultancy while placing Post-it notes with their written feedback and suggestions for the drawings presented.
Residents like John Ramsden and Cathy Beauregard, who have lived in San Pedro for 64 and 25 years, respectively, echo a primary concern of many: Road space cannot be compromised in any way for vehicles. Everyone would love to have a beautifully landscaped Gaffey and shorter crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety, but there’s no question what’s most pressing on the community’s mind.
“As long as we don’t lose the width of the existent lanes on Gaffey. The middle lane at Gaffey and 19th Street is especially critical. Beautify Gaffey, keep the bus stops, make it prettier without shortening and lessening the road space,” iterated Beauregard.
While Miguel Nuñez of Fehr & Peers was able to address the speed and safety issue by pointing out that the planned bulb-outs, actually require a larger turning radius from vehicles, thereby slowing down their turning velocity, he did not provide a direct solution to the primary concern that residents like Clay Marshal raised.
“What I’d like to know is how the Great Street plan will improve the functionality of Gaffey because it doesn’t move well at all. Even if you make it look great, no one is going to walk [the hilly blocks] between 5th and 13th Streets,” Marshal pointed out.
Final plan drawings, including all the cumulative recommendations and community feedback, will be presented in late March.