Traffic plan ruling awaited

Times Staff Writer

After months of controversy, the fates of Olympic and Pico boulevards edged toward a resolution Wednesday, as a judge heard arguments over a city plan to turn them into quasi-one way streets.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John Torribio said that he expects to issue a ruling Friday.

Two groups have sued Los Angeles, saying more environmental study is needed.

Torribio released a tentative ruling Tuesday in which he appeared to side with the groups suing the city, saying the plan would probably add traffic and needed more study.

But Torribio also left the city wiggle room and indicated that his ruling may not apply to a revised plan released by the city in March -- after the groups filed suit.

He also suggested that the groups may have had to file a separate lawsuit over that plan.

Los Angeles wants to remove most street parking on Olympic and Pico to open up extra lanes for traffic. In addition, the city is seeking to change the timing of traffic signals so that westbound flows on Olympic and eastbound flows on Pico would be favored.

The idea is to give commuters reliable and quicker routes to and from the Westside.

But the plan has drawn a slew of complaints.

Merchants on Pico have bemoaned the potential loss of needed parking and residents say the plan would attract exactly what they don't need: more traffic.

"I think the sad part of this is that the community has to hire legal counsel to protect themselves from the city," said Barbara Broide, the president of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Boulevard Homeowners Assn., one of the groups that sued the city.

The other group is the Greater West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Public officials said that the case is a test of the boundaries of the California Environmental Quality Act. Councilman Jack Weiss, who supports the traffic plan, said he was fearful of the precedent that would be set if the lawsuits are successful.

"Taken to its logical conclusion it could mean that ordinary city actions such as changing the timing of traffic lights and where to locate parking meters could be subject to full environmental review," Weiss said.


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