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Council Approves Sweeping Policy Document Directing City Staff To Implement More Vehicle-Lane Shrinking/Traffic Slowing "Road Diets," Roundabouts, Separated Bicycle Lanes, Pedestrian Promoting Designs In LB Street Projects



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(July 18, 2020, 3:20 p.m.) -- On July 14, 2020 the City Council voted (7-1 Supernaw dissenting without citing substantive grounds, Andrews absent) to approve a citywide policy document directing city staff to pursue and implement various traffic slowing/vehicle lane shrinking measures, separated bicycle lanes and pedestrian encouraging measures city staff described as a "Safe Streets Plan." .

The July 14 agenda item brought public testimony in opposition by telephone and in emailed/e-comments.

LBREPORT.com's coverage includes emailed/"e-comments" not publicly heard at the Council meeting (because the City Council has declined to direct the City Clerk to read the emailed comments aloud. LBUSD and other government bodies read emailed testimony aloud.) LBREPORT.com includes this City Hall "silenced" public testimony as part of our coverage of this story.)

The agenda item was accompanied by a city staff prepared 53 page multi-color/graphic filled "Safe Streets Plan" that can be viewed here.

City staff sought, and received, Council approval to pursue "Keystone actions" to management's stated goal of zero fatal accidents ("vision zero.") The Keystone actions approved by the Council vote are: :

  • Dedicate Resources to Vision Zero
  • Lower Vehicle Speeds
  • Implement Best Practice Street Design
  • Expand Multimodal Safety Education Campaign
  • Collect Better Data to Make Better Decisions
  • Prioritize Road Safety Investments through Equity Lens


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City staff text stated: "We can reduce the risk of collisions on many multi-lane arterials that encourage higher vehicle speeds through roadway reconfigurations, as was done on Broadway, Bellflower Boulevard, and Alamitos Avenue" and continued: .

We have begun to make progress toward Vision Zero by incorporating best practice street safety elements into planning efforts,3 projects,4,5 and educational programming. Recent street safety projects include a pedestrian scramble crossing at Alamitos and Walnut Avenues as well as protected bike lanes on Broadway, Orange Avenue, and Bellflower Boulevard...Additional safety projects were recently implemented on 7th Street, Anaheim Street, and Atlantic Avenue. In 2017, the City of Long Beach was awarded two Vision Zero-focused grants from the State of Californiaís Office of Traffic Safety to expand bicycle and pedestrian safety education.
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City staff's "Safe Streets Plan" entirely omits the term "road diet." The term is invisible in city staff's materials, although the lane shrinking measure (intended to slow traffic) is included in the Safe Streets Plan with alternative (euphemized) verbiage.

During Council discussion, neither city staff's written materials nor any Councilmembers mentioned the Broadway corridor road diet. Its design has drawn stiff opposition from Alamitos Beach residents (including now 2nd dist. Council candidate Robert Fox), the Alamitos Beach Neighborhood Association and multiple Broadway businesses who charge its design has caused or contributed to multiple non-fatal vehicle collisions and damaged Broadway corridor businesses. (A July 15 demonstration, organized by Mr. Fox, protested the Broadway corridor road diet; LBREPORT.com VIDEO coverage here.),

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The Council didn't begin discussing the item until 10:44 p.m. and didn't invite public testimony on the item until about 11:30 p.m. (details below) Council incumbents didn't wait to hear what the public had to say before voiced support for city staff's proposed actions. Third district Councilwoman Suzie Price (criticized by some of her constituents for traffic and allegedly safety impacts of the E. Ocean Blvd/Peninsula road diet, commended city staff for its work. Fifth district Councilwoman Stacy Mungo voted for the item, although some of her constituents objected to obstructive green bollards installed along Studebaker Rd. between Wardlow Rd. and Spring St. (which already has two adjacent separated access roads.) Mungo sought to blame her predecessor, Gerrie Schipske, for the project but then said she'd received support from bicycle riders for extending/connecting the bike lane (and voted for city staff's entire policy document.)

4th district Councilman Daryl Supernaw (whose Los Altos constituents have cited negative traffic impacts of a Bellflower Blvd. bike lane) offered a non-substantive explanation for casting the Council's only "no" vote on the item. Supernaw said his previous discussions had been with now-former staff and reasoned it wouldn't be fair for him to ask current staff about the issue. Supernaw also cited the meeting's late hour.

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After Councilmembers had voiced their views, the public was invited to speak. Ann Cantrell said the Broadway road diet had been a factor in multiple non-fatal accidents and doubted that "grants" from other levels of government would cover the costs of projects city staff may proposes. Another public speaker said the city had failed to provide sufficient traffic/speeding enforcement,. Both speakers noted that city staff said the item wasn't time sensitive and urged the Council to delay a vote until the public had more of an opportunity to comment;

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Among emailed "e-comments" (not heard because Councilmembers have declined to have emailed testimony read aloud):

Linda Scholl: oppose approving the City's Safe Streets Long Beach Plan based on the following:As a disabled American, road diets, which will result from the Safe Streets Policy, are hazardous to my health. The road obstructions installed to "protect" bike lanes are hazardous. The close proximity to traffic when exiting my car is hazardous. Having to cross over bike lanes with the possibility of bicyclists riding those lanes is hazardous. The implementation of Safe Street Policies are in violation of Federal American with Disabilities Act and State Unruh Disability laws.There are many parking impacted areas in the city and Safe Streets will create fewer parking spaces and negatively impact the quality of life for Long Beach residents
Merry Colvin: would like to voice my concern over the continuation of "Safe Streets," a plan which is not safe at all. I recently lost my business on Broadway due to the Broadway Road Diet my customers no longer felt safe driving or parking on Broadway, and as a result my business dwindled to unsustainable levels and I had no choice but to close. The lanes are too narrow; the visibility is greatly reduced‚ -- ironically, it is ‚ vision zero -- for cars, bikes, and pedestrians alike. I had witnessed a number of car accidents, some of them involving bicycles and pedestrians. I have in my possession a petition with the signatures of over 1100 citizens who agree that the same taxpayers who are paying for this folly are also the ones put in jeopardy by it. I am afraid that Safe Streets/Vision Zero has become a feel-good public relations campaign that does not take into account the reality of keeping citizens safe.
Janet West: I oppose approving the City's Safe Streets Long Beach Plan based on the following:As a disabled American, road diets, which will result from the Safe Streets Policy, are hazardous to my health. The road obstructions installed to "protect" bike lanes are hazardous. The close proximity to traffic when exiting my car is hazardous. Having to cross over bike lanes with the possibility of bicyclists riding those lanes is hazardous. The implementation of Safe Street Policies are in violation of Federal American with Disabilities Act and State Unruh Disability laws.There are many parking impacted areas in the city and Safe Streets will create fewer parking spaces and negatively impact the quality of life for Long Beach residents. Denying them their right of "the pursuit of happiness" is in the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution, and has been upheld by SCOTUS. If the real goal of this was zero accidents, then you'd have to keep people locked away at home.
Glennis Dolce: What? Did you not already learn that the city does not like "road diets"? Dare to show the public what this really will mean. Show us the maps! Have public meetings on this. Stop trying to slip this stuff by while people are just trying to get by and preserve their health. Wait until after City Council can have proper outreach and can resume public council meetings to ensure the Public's understanding and participation in these matters. Vote no
James Raschiella City management's agendizing memo acknowledges that action on the "Safe Streets" plan isn't time critical, meaning the Council could refer the issue to a Committee or invite public outreach...or simply approve it."PLEASE REFER ISSUE TO A COMMITTEE OR INVITE PUBLIC OUTREACH
Padric Gleason Gonzales I live in downtown LB, in District 1. While this plan is several years too late, I write in SUPPORT of Long Beach's efforts toward Vision Zero. I do not own a vehicle. Reminder to all city councilors: many of your constituents rely on sidewalks and micromobility rather than motor vehicle. We should design our city to be as pedestrian-friendly as possible, which includes reducing car speeds, designing walkable neighborhoods, and investing in roadside infrastructure (tree canopy, seating, shade structures at bus stops, etc). Please support this measure to make our seats safer
Anne Proffit [all caps in original] NO. NO. NO. THIS IS YOUR WAY OF REDUCING PARKING - AGAIN - AND YOU WILL BE SUED. AND LOSE. BECAUSE LONG BEACH ALWAYS LOSES ITS LAWSUITS. WE NEED VIABLE PARKING IDEAS AND LBPARKING.COM HAS THEM. TAKE OFF YOUR BLINDERS AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE TALENT OF THE PUBLIC, WHICH IS MORE INFORMED THAN ANYONE AT CITY HALL. WE WILL RECALL ROBERT GARCIA, WE WILL HAVE ROBERT LUNA FIRED AND TOM MODICA AS WELL.
Steve Gerhardt Walk Long Beach served on the technical advisory committee for the Safe Streets LB Plan, and is highly supportive of its approval.While we are comfortable with the policy document, the key to its success to improve mobility safety will be in the ongoing implementation. We want to see adequate funding in the City's budget to make mobility safety improvements and continued robust outreach.We would like to request that a provision be added to the approval motion that ongoing and regular community outreach be ensured for Safe Streets, with annual reports back to Council. Quarterly community discussions should include lists of upcoming street repaving and roadway improvement projects to make sure that complete streets improvements are included whenever possible throughout the City.Thank you to the City Council for its support, and to the Public Works and other City staff for bringing this item forward. We look forward to working with the City on its successful implementation

Councilmembers said nothing in response to verbal or written public testimony. Their 7-1 approval vote (Supernaw dissenting, Andrews absent) followed.

Background

The "Safe Streets Plan," implemented by the Council by its July 14 voted action, is the culmination of a city staff directed process detailed here. Considering the extent of its citywide neighborhood and traffic impacts, city staff's process involved relatively few Long Beach residents.

>City staff held four "Listening sessions" in fall 2018 with "small groups of invited Long Beach stakeholders." These involved 27 total attendees (source: here.)

City staff held what it called "pop-up events" (displaying poster boards at 9 unrelated events attended by 650+ persons. At these events, in response to the question "What would make you feel safer walking or biking in Long Beach?", 129 persons (16%) said "vehicles should slow down" and 111 persons (14%) said bicycles were separated from cars. 70% of responses cited various other actions.

City staff also produced an "online meeting," a video webposted on December 4, 2019 that as of July 19, 2020 had drawn 54 views

City staff's materials don't acknowledge or mention opposition to city staff's Broadway corridor "road diet" (or to lesser extents other road diets along E. Ocean Blvd/Peninsula, part of Studebaker Rd. and Bellflower Blvd.)

In late July 2019, city management responded to public pushback on the Broadway road diet by providing media outlets with non-fatal accident data subsequently shown (via Public Records requests) to be incomplete. The "Safe Streets" document lists "Community Members Killed in Traffic Collisions - January 2019 to December 2019" and "High-Injury Corridors and Intersections (2013 - 2017) but doesn't acknowledge or cite data on non-fatal collisions, including those some attribute to road diet designs themselves. . .

Similar lane-narrowing traffic slowing measures have drawn opposition in other cities. In Los Angeles, a major road diet was withdrawn after riled residents moved to recall the district's L. A. Council incumbent.


Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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