UPDATE: This article has been changed to reflect that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation has cancelled the open house previously scheduled for Saturday, July 29. A spokesperson for the LA DOT says the cancellation is due to the recent decision to add car lanes back to Vista del Mar.

For months, pressure has been building on Los Angeles City Hall to scale back its ambitious policy known as “road diet.” As the Weekly reported in June, the road diet calls for building bike lanes and eliminating car lanes for the purpose of getting cars to drive slower, thereby making streets safer. The current focus of the policy — and the attendant controversy — is on Playa del Rey, the Westside neighborhood near LAX also known as Silicon Beach for its plethora of tech startups.

The road-diet measures have made Playa del Rey and its environs more pedestrian-friendly for residents and a traffic headache for scores of motorists commuting back and forth from the South Bay to the Westside who cut through the area to avoid the 405 freeway. Some locals claim the lane reduction has added as much as an hour to their morning commute.

It started in May with the redesign of the beachfront Vista del Mar. Then in June the city followed through on a plan to restripe an additional four streets in the area — Culver, Jefferson and Venice boulevards and Pershing Drive. Again, the plan called for more bike lanes and fewer car lanes as part of what city officials call the “Safe Streets for Playa del Rey Initiative.”

City Councilmember Mike Bonin, whose district covers the Westside, has been a staunch supporter of the projects, and he has been getting grief on social media and AM talk radio since they took effect in May. “Under the auspices of making the roads safer, a lot of us believe that the real agenda is essentially to harass drivers out of their cars and into public transportation or onto bicycles, which is not a practical reality for most people,” said Doug McIntyre, host of McIntyre in the Morning on KABC.

At a crowded and contentious meeting on July 11, the Mar Vista Community Council approved a motion to keep the road-diet project in place while city officials continue to gather data for a future evaluation.

“Through official channels, comments at meetings and letters we’ve received, the response has been pretty evenly split between people that love it, people that hate it and people who just want to see the project completed all the way through so they can see the results,” says Damien Newton, a member of the Mar Vista Community Council and former editor of Streetsblog L.A.

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