WEHO’S CRITICAL MASS OF TRAFFIC

criticalmass1
August 7, 2014

Op-ed by Carleton Cronin, West Hollywood, California

I guess you could say that we are fortunate in that we can pay the price for a couple of concert tickets at Disney Hall or an opera at the Chandler. So, we set off, usually in the midst of rush hour traffic, to try to get downtown in about an hour – that’s one hour for eight miles of driving on Los Angeles city streets.

Carleton Cronin writes about living in the wilds of WeHo's urban jungle.

Carleton Cronin writes about living in the wilds of WeHo’s urban jungle.

At that time of day it’s a slow drive and the streets are packed. Friends have tried to have us use the MTA, as they have done from West LA, but they have more patience than we.

An hour or so is enough for us versus their one and one half hour over a bus route and the underground. Oh, and they drive to a bus stop since there is not one within half a mile of their house.

And, speaking of buses, during the long hour on Beverly Boulevard we seldom see more than one #14 or #4 bus on the way. Of course, the buses can go no faster than the rest of the traffic.

The recent traffic survey for the west side was an eye-opener. Certainly all who live in this part of town know how busy the streets are but the actual numbers were astounding.

On my short block, the average count going west was almost 400 and going east, the evening rush, was about the same. Just today I was standing at my kitchen window and, in ten minutes at 5 P.M., I counted 43 cars headed east.

These are commuters who are trying to avoid the pinch points on Melrose and traffic signals on Beverly. The procession seems endless at times and simply attempting to cross the street at any corner is a gamble with destiny.

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Traffic in West Hollywood is sometimes  better defined as "sporadic forward motion punctuated by incessant and unasked for parking on the street."

Traffic in West Hollywood is sometimes better defined as “sporadic forward motion punctuated by incessant and unasked for parking on the street.”

It doesn’t take much to slow things down: A party at a Melrose restaurant, a paparazzi swarm at Bella Bambino, a fender-bender (or worse) at any intersection.

Sorry, folks.

Add twenty minutes to your commute tonight, but try to keep it under fifty as you race down those narrow residential streets.

Then, there are “developments” such as the proposed fantasy at 8899 Beverly Boulevard which also heavily impacts Rosewood. The city is not ready for this type of proposal. It may come within the next ten years, but not until the city infrastructure and resources and the ability of the residents to absorb such a venture.

Just now it is simply too damned much.

We need traffic control first. We also need more oversight of such things as parking permits. On my block, each day brings many “residents “from somewhere to park. Add the five or six pickups and occasional large truck for the “boxhauls” in mid-block and residents on this block cannot find room for servicemen or guests.

It’s pretty much the same wherever we go: long time to go short distances, like the dentist in Santa Monica or the two and a half miles to UCLA clinics.. I’m not telling anybody something they do not know. We’re prisoners behind walls of cars, trucks and an occasional bus, surrounded on all sides by the machines we once hoped would bring us independence.

As the city develops, the number of people coming into town for work, leaving town for home and passing through to parts unknown grows.

As the city develops, the number of people coming into town for work, leaving town for home and passing through to parts unknown grows.

Duped again by our own inability to see that unintended consequences of even our best intentions are inevitable. Residents must be aware and vigilant and be involved enough with the city’s planning to add their voices. Happily, we on the west have the West Hollywood West Residents Association to carry our banner to city hall and with dedication and vigorous intent bring our concerns to the table.

Simply put: There are too many cars coming into and passing through West Hollywood. A critical mass has been achieved and we must work with our neighboring cities to find ways to move vehicles faster.

More than buses, West Hollywood needs an above ground trolley connecting subway routes in Hollywood, in Century City and on Wilshire Boulevard.

More than buses, West Hollywood needs an above ground trolley connecting subway routes in Hollywood, in Century City and on Wilshire Boulevard.

We also need a real transit system which serves all parts of the county. I have written previously of hotel and restaurant workers who live at a distance losing a direct bus line into West Hollywood.

Although the line had about 3000 riders per day, the MTA nixed it. Now, I’m told, riders wishing to come to work here must take two or more separate buses or trains. This is expensive as well as time-consuming, for people whose incomes are stressed by the costs.

Incidentally, in our “diverse and progressive city” are many who would be appalled to have a waiter live next door. I suppose that is why “poor doors” are so popular these days. New York city is being blasted for the same approach to providing “affordable housing” but requiring separate entrances to the buildings. (What is affordable housing, anyhow?)

Remember learning these lines in grammar school: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses….”?

Just make sure they use the side entrance.

But no more cars!

“Send us your cars, your single occupant vehicles, vying to go somewhere…”

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