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Hermosa’s main street to get a new look

Times Staff Writer

The main drag in Hermosa Beach -- Pier Avenue -- is slated to undergo a major revamping under a controversial plan narrowly approved last week by the City Council.

The $2-million improvement project, approved in a 3-2 vote and scheduled to begin as early as July, calls for wider sidewalks and reconfigured parking.

But the plan faced criticism from some elected officials, who argued that it fell short by failing to include bike lanes which had been sought by some residents.

In addition, Mayor Michael Keegan said he has safety concerns about the plan to keep diagonal parking along the road, which sees as many as 19,000 vehicles a day. Keegan and Councilman J.R. Reviczky voted against the plan; Councilmen Kit Bobko, Pete Tucker and Michael DiVirgilio supported it.

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One of the main changes on the avenue will be the widening of the sidewalks to 14 feet from 10, which supporters said they hoped would encourage foot traffic.

“If you read the scholarly sources on urban development, in order to get people out of cars and wanting to walk, you need to have wide sidewalks,” Bobko said.

Critics such as Keegan argued that the space should be used to create bike lanes. But Bobko said Pier Avenue is too dangerous for bike riders.

“People tend to think of Pier Avenue as a continuation of the Pacific Coast Highway, and you are either insane or crazy if you are riding on it,” Bobko said. “I am concerned of the liability and safety issues of a bike lane on that road.”

The plans also call for changes to parking along the road. On the south side of the east-west artery from Valley Drive to Manhattan Avenue, the city will convert Pier Avenue’s existing diagonal slots into parallel spaces. But many of the area’s parking spots will remain diagonal.

Keegan said he had hoped to see more parallel parking in place of current diagonal arrangements, which he said hinder visibility “because you can’t see on your right side when you back out.”

He said he was disappointed that city planners presented only one option for the project.

“I just think that if we are going to redo the area, which hasn’t been updated in, like, 60 years, we should look at all our options and not just approve one plan with limited choices,” Keegan said.

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The first step of the plan will start in July when the city will construct a “scramble” crosswalk at Pier and Hermosa avenues, which will allow pedestrians to cross diagonally, similar to intersections in Old Pasadena.

The city hopes to complete the project within 12 months, Bobko said. He said the plans get the most out of limited funding available through Proposition C, a county-wide sales tax dedicated to transportation improvements.

“It’s like a wedding,” Bobko said of the plans. “You start out wanting steak and lobster, but then you end up with pork chops, so we are hoping we can achieve the project within our funds.”

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francisco.varaorta@ latimes.com


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