As expected, Tuesday evening’s Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council’s Sycamore Grove Local Issues Committee Special Meeting turned out to be a farce in every sense of the word. This special meeting was demanded by the very vocal bike lane Opposition. But as the old adage goes: “Give someone enough rope and they will hang themselves.”
The meeting was hosted by Sycamore Grove Chair, Sergio Vidal-Echeverria and Sycamore Grove representative, Joseph Riser. The two-hour event consisted of quick one minute general comments from local stakeholders (residents, business owners, students, shoppers, vested interests) who spoke in favor or against the LADOT Bike Plan for North Figueroa Street. The comments were vastly in favor of bike lanes on Figueroa for safety, traffic calming, traffic relief, commuting, health, recreation, pleasure, building community, and the children who live here.
The second portion of the meeting was dedicated to giving Hart D. Fisher 15 minutes to rant against bike lanes. (Yes, the Sycamore Grove Local Issues Committee held this meeting at Fisher’s demand to show a 15 minutes video presentation against bike lanes.) The starved-for-fame, Fisher ironically did not get his entire 15 minutes of fame in this case. A good portion of his allotment was wasted by botching the video presentation. When he did get the video working it was just a re-hashing of the exact same tired and false claims that the opponents said during the comment period. (e.g., “The bike lanes will block emergency vehicles…” “The bike lanes will take away hundreds of parking spaces…”) Veteran ASNC member, Joe Riser mercifully cut Fisher short, explaining that he was misled to believe that this would be an alternative route presentation, not a editorialization of the Opposition’s viewpoint. The always volatile Fisher eventually had to be ejected from the room for violating California Penal Code § 403 (Disrupting a public meeting).
After the Opposition’s fail-tastic portion died a quick and painful death, it was time for an actual real-life professional who is paid by us stakeholders to manage theses actual real-life city plans. David Somers from the City of Los Angeles Department of CITY PLANNING was kind enough to attend and answer a few questions. His portion was brief and without any LADOT staff in attendance, he could only speak about the bike plan from his department’s perspective. The most important take-away from Somers is that North Figueroa bike lanes could be installed by August. (That is a slight setback considering previous statements indicated a late June installation.)
At the end of the meeting, the Sycamore Grove Local Issues Committee took a show-of-hands poll that resulted in 41 In Favor of bike lanes on Figueroa, and 16 Against. This vote, the previous Montecito Heights vote, along with the letters, and online ASNC Bike Lane Survey will be presented to the full ASNC Board on June 24th.
The bike lane opposition is dwindling. Only 16 people voted against bike lanes, and this was supposed to be their meeting! At this point, there only seems to be three men dedicated to opposing safer streets and new bike lanes on Figueroa: Tom Topping, Publisher of the Blvd Sentinel, John Nese from Galco’s, and Hart D. Fisher from 911 N Avenue 57. Alternative Bike Plan map maker, Charles Fisher has not even attended the last two meetings. (Hope he is O.K.)
The North Figueroa bike lanes were approved with the city-wide 2010 Bike Plan that our elected City Council voted in favor of. Furthermore, the plan has been signed-off for installation this summer by LADOT General Manager, Jamie de la Vega and City Planning Director, Michael Logrande. These Neighborhood Council meetings are for all intents and purposes, just for the record and have very little bearing on the outcome. If anything, the Opposition has worked to undermine the validity of Neighborhood Empowerment by demanding endless hearings at the neighborhood council’s expense.
Come this August, with all likelihood, there will be buffered bike lanes on North Figueroa Street despite the fear-mongers efforts. It will be wonderful and look nothing like this.