Palms merchants demand fix for alleged ticket trap on National Blvd.
Activists on Motor Avenue heightened their call on city officials Wednesday to fix what they believe is a ticket trap at a congested intersection in their Palms neighborhood.
For three hours during the morning rush, drivers going east or west on National Boulevard are not allowed to turn north onto Motor, a main route into Century City. Drivers who miss or ignore the signs often receive traffic tickets.
From Jan. 1 to April 12, police handed out about 200 tickets for illegal turns at the intersection, according to the LAPD data. During two mornings during that period, about 20 drivers were ticketed each day. Tickets for such violations cost about $238, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman said.
FOR THE RECORD:
Palms intersection: An article in the Aug. 14 Section A about controversial traffic calming measures in Palms included a map that mislabeled Overland Avenue as Sepulveda Boulevard. —
Merchants say they they have lost business because the rules make it difficult for customers to come to their stores. On Wednesday, Lee Wallach, president of the Motor Avenue Improvement Assn., said stakeholders are renewing their call on Councilman Paul Koretz to either eliminate the turning mitigations or move them north a quarter-mile to Manning Avenue.
Koretz spokesman Paul Neuman said the neighborhood traffic management plan has “significant legal standing” and any adjustment would require review by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.
“Keeping in mind that remedies in one area might have a ripple effect impacting traffic in another area, it’s crucial that any process allows local neighborhoods and surrounding communities the opportunity to weigh in with their questions, views and concerns,” Neuman said.
Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesman Jonathan Hui said the city is getting an increasing number of complaints about the situation.
“It’s a balance of conflicting interests,” he said. “Not everyone is going to be happy.”
The intersection has become a bitter battleground over so-called traffic calming measures, which have been deployed all across the city in an attempt to reduce cut-through traffic in residential areas.
Transportation officials embarked in the early 2000s on what they described as one of the city’s biggest traffic mitigation efforts in its history. Among other things, the city has restricted turns, installed traffic islands, and added stop signs and speed humps in an effort to reduce traffic and speed in the neighborhood.
Officials said the project has limited the number of cars passing through the Motor-National intersection to 600 an hour during morning rush hour.
Mike Eveloff, vice president of Friends of West L.A., stressed that the mitigations are the result of a bargain by the three communities in exchange for allowing a development project.
He said the traffic measures cannot be removed unless mitigations of equal or greater effectiveness take their place. But he acknowledged that the effectiveness of many of the mitigations had degraded over time as more and more cars have overwhelmed the area.
Merchants in Palms claim they had little say in the traffic mitigations. Members of Wallach’s street association launched a warning campaign about two years, hoping to save drivers from tickets and save businesses from closing.
When merchants see the LAPD in waiting these days, they run out to the sidewalk holding up a four-foot sign that warns “NO TURN! WILL GET TICKET.” The stores along the street also hand out postcards bearing the phone numbers and email addresses of city officials, tacitly encouraging drivers to complain about the restrictive traffic rules.
One computer-repair store even offers a free hour of labor — calling it “justice credit” — to any customer who arrives with a citation in hand. In the last five years, the store has given the credit to about 60 customers.
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