Opinion: Eagle Rock might be exactly the right place for a ‘Beautiful Boulevard.’ Do residents agree?
Eagle Rock shares a feature peculiar to many of Los Angeles’ older neighborhoods: Its terrain, culture and small shops and restaurants should make it an ideal place to explore on foot. But its two conspicuously wide boulevards — Eagle Rock and Colorado — were laid out in a way that maximizes automotive throughput, creates artificial neighborhood boundaries and makes walking from one side of the street to the next sometimes risky. I write this not in service to a particular city planning ideology, but as someone who grew up and for years lived as an adult on the other side of the 2 Freeway in Glendale, and who has walked, biked and driven through Eagle Rock as the neighborhood changed dramatically over the decades.
So I must confess feeling disappointed when I read that Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León asked to delay a plan that would turn Colorado Boulevard into a pedestrian-friendly public space with improved transit and, in some places, one lane of vehicle traffic in each direction. The Times Editorial Board expressed dismay over De León’s move and lamented Los Angeles’ past failures to transform its car-centric streets in ways that align with the city’s stated goals on climate change.
Some of the letters reacting to De León’s delay discuss the broad themes of climate change and city planning, but many writers from the affected neighborhood get at a more fundamental question: What do Eagle Rock residents actually want?
To the editor: Thanks to The Times Editorial Board for pointing out that the Beautiful Boulevard concept has widespread support within Eagle Rock. It’s a plan that should absolutely go forward without delay.
In April, at the most recent public meeting on this topic, there were more than 200 participants, and the hearing lasted for five hours. There was no shortage of public comment on the Beautiful Boulevard plan.
We can’t keep delaying progress at the behest of car-centric perspectives, especially not at the cost of equity and our planet.
Felicia Garcia, Los Angeles
The writer is co-founder of the group Equitable Eagle Rock.
To the editor: Your editorial misses several important points. The Beautiful Boulevard project in Eagle Rock has been rammed through by its advocates and Metro without a sufficiently broad local public review.
Having one lane of vehicle traffic on each side of Colorado instead of two will very likely cause traffic to increase on the residential streets that run parallel. These streets are not designed for overflow traffic from Colorado.
Our concern relates to traffic congestion and safety rather than a car-centric view. We effectively had no City Council representation for more than a year due to José Huizar’s legal difficulties. Councilman De León has had only the last few months to get up to speed. He has very sensibly asked for a delay in approving this plan in favor of necessary further traffic study and public review.
This is leadership.
Nadine Levyfield, Los Angeles
To the editor: I have lived in Eagle Rock for 34 years. I had hoped when De León became our City Council member we would finally have someone who understood that District 14 includes more than East Los Angeles.
His call to delay going forward with the Beautiful Boulevard plan, which includes a rapid bus line, is antithetical to the belief that he has Eagle Rock’s best interest at heart.
Anne Beaty, Los Angeles
To the editor: I must take serious exception to your editorial on the actions of De León and Councilman Paul Koretz to stop plans that would reduce vehicle traffic lanes. Both did exactly what they should have done.
The streets of Los Angeles belong to all residents, not just those who live in particular neighborhoods. Everyone “owns” a share of every street in the city, as they are paid for by our taxes. When residents of one area restrict vehicle traffic on a portion of a thoroughfare, they are showing no regard for the rest of us.
These restrictions create traffic problems elsewhere. The cars do not stop moving, they merely take another route.
These leaders showed the courage to do the right thing. We need more City Council members like Koretz and De León.
James Stewart, Panorama City
To the editor: Throughout Los Angeles County, Metro has poured billions into new rail and bus lines surrounded by wide swaths of high-speed car traffic, where transit riders and street life were the afterthought.
Light rail runs down wide and fast Exposition Boulevard and soon Crenshaw Boulevard. Trains running down the medians of the 105 and 210 freeways force riders to bear terrible noise and suck in exhaust fumes.
The rapid bus line through Eagle Rock could be a refreshing change: a total street makeover that prioritizes transit riders and those who want to stroll, roll and linger at local businesses, where car drivers are accommodated but not coddled.
Transit works best when it serves and supports great places for people. The Beautiful Boulevard vision for Eagle Rock is just that. It is something Los Angeles needs more of dearly.
Carter Rubin, Santa Monica
The writer is a mobility and climate advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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