Pedestrian-friendly updates to major thoroughfares in Playa del Rey have enraged many Westside drivers, who say the changes—meant to reduce traffic fatalities—are slowing traffic to a crawl.
The projects are part of a safe streets initiative in the neighborhood led by Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin, who reps the area. An explanation of the initiative on Bonin’s website says the changes will, “make streets in Playa del Rey safer by calming traffic.”
The updates include restriping on Vista del Mar, Culver Boulevard, Jefferson Boulevard, and Pershing Drive. All four streets will eventually be reduced to a single lane in each direction with a center lane for turning. Diagonal parking spaces will also be added to stretches of Pershing, Culver, and Vista del Mar, while new bike lanes will be added to Jefferson, Culver, and Pershing.
These changes have already gone into effect on Vista del Mar, where all parking has been moved to the west side of the road—ensuring beachgoers won’t have to sprint across traffic to access their vehicles.
Many drivers, however, aren’t pleased with the results. As KTLA reports, signs protesting the initiative have appeared along the roadway, while a Change.org petition calling upon city officials to reconsider the update has garnered over 2,000 signatures.
The petition argues that by slowing down traffic, the restriped roadways will discourage tourism and cause property values to “plummet.” It also acknowledges that the project will likely make streets safer, “as all the traffic will be moving at a snail's pace.”
According to collision data provided by Bonin’s office, 210 traffic collisions on Vista del Mar resulted in injuries between 2003 and 2016. Five collisions resulted in fatalities.
David Graham-Caso, a spokesperson for Bonin, tells Curbed that the response from constituents hasn’t been all bad.
He says comments “have ranged broadly from people in Playa del Rey who are thankful that their neighborhood will be safer, to residents of other cities in the region, who have expressed frustration that they will no longer be able to use neighborhood streets in lower Playa del Rey as a high-speed freeway.”
Residents won’t have to wait long for more roadway updates. Los Angeles Department of Transportation officials will begin restriping the remaining streets once resurfacing is complete on Pershing Drive.