By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Scott McNeely, president of the Pico Neighborhood Council, a vocal opponent of the "Olympic-West, Pico-East" route, says the already bad Fairfax Avenue gridlock "started the minute the Grove went in" — the upscale shopping center located far from Little Ethiopia, about 20 blocks to the north.
"Pico flows," says former resident Denise Balugo, but the cross streets of "Fairfax and La Cienega are the worst." Now, with City Hall about to invite motorists to use Pico Boulevard to go east — that is, until they get to Fairfax — a new bottleneck is predicted by some. Architect and urban planner Phillip Jon Brown says the plan is "obviously going to have blockage."
Allyn Rifkin, author of the original feasibility report for Yaroslavsky, says the route should extend at least as far inland as La Brea Avenue, "because there's an easier transition there" compared to the stopping point at Fairfax, which includes a daunting six-point intersection where it crosses Olympic Boulevard.
But Andrew Westall, a spokesman for Wesson, says, "For us, it's a victory." He says that their "biggest issue" is how to preserve parking on Pico between Fairfax and La Brea, not the new bottleneck expected at the edge of Wesson's City Council district — and not what might happen to quiet neighborhoods near Fairfax as motorists seek surface-street routes around the bottleneck.
Villaraigosa stated in a press release last year that his one-way idea for Pico and Olympic would "prove that it works here at? L.A.'s gridlock epicenter, and then we are going to take this model citywide."
Is the "gridlock epicenter" now set to become Pico and Olympic at Fairfax? Opponents asking this question (and calling themselves the Pico-Olympic Village People) distributed a flier that states, "We oppose the mayor's plan because it is bad for residents — by attracting more commuter traffic, it will compromise the safety of our streets and air quality" — and also make the shops along Pico and Olympic extremely tough to access.
Weiss, who supports the plan, told the Weekly that the rush-hour parking restrictions would only overlap partially with the shops' normal business hours. But he was clearly uncomfortable discussing the changes, and quickly hung up the phone.
Maybe that's because Weiss, an attorney, has heard that Jay Handal, chairman of the Greater West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and its affiliated group, Olympic Pico Solutions, have announced that a coalition of businesses and residents will sue to stop "the mayor's ill-conceived plan." One of the coalition's questions is, "How does the city pay for the [traffic] mitigations they have been promising, given the city's money problems?"
Olympic Pico Solutions claims it has already raised approximately $10,000 and needs another $10,000 — to hire the same law firm that defeated the mayor's plan to take over the Los Angeles Unified School District.
If the group fails, the first phase of Villaraigosa's scaled-down "Olympic-West, Pico-East" route will launch in a matter of days. But it won't go through Wesson-istan.
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