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Home / News / Politics / Council members look to prepare for LA street safety measure

Council members look to prepare for LA street safety measure

by City News Service
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By Jose Herrera

Three Los Angeles City Council members have introduced a motion requesting a series of reports aimed at preparing the city for the possible passage of a street safety measure on the March ballot.

Voters will decide whether to approve the Healthy Streets LA ballot measure, a resident-led initiative that would require the city to install street modifications described in its Mobility Plan 2035 whenever street improvements are made to at least one-eighth of a mile of roadway.

The city’s Mobility Plan is a 20-year city planning document for improving LA streets, and enhancing public safety and promoting other modes of transportation such as walking, biking, or other transit options.

If voters approve HLA, if the city were to resurface a street, it could trigger the measure, requiring the city to make other modifications, such as adding ADA-compliant curbs, new bus lanes or bus stops, new crosswalks and protected bicycle lanes.

Council members Nithya Raman, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Hugo Soto- Martinez introduced a motion Tuesday that would begin what they describe as a “three-prong approach” to implement the measure, if it is approved by voters.

The motion looks to clarify certain decision-making processes and align the Mobility Plan Implementation Ordinance to comply with the goals of Measure HLA. Additionally, the city would look to develop a five-year Capital Infrastructure Plan to prioritize funding with projects that would achieve the city’s policy goals.

Lastly, the plan would attempt to align maintenance programs with Measure HLA, mainly examining how the city’s Pavement Preservation Program could work in tandem with the proposed mobility infrastructure requirement.

Measure HLA is backed by environmental and labor groups, as well as some nonprofit organizations, such as the Sierra Club, Unite Here! Local 11, SEIU Local 721, Climate Resolve, Streets for All, and Biking While Black.

Opponents of the measure, such as Keep LA Moving, the National Motorists’ Association and Safer Streets L.A., argue the measure is a “one- size-fits-all” mandate that would negatively impact drivers and increase traffic. They also say it will cost the city and taxpayers.

United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, International Association of Fire Fighters, California Professional Firefighters and Keep LA Moving held a news conference Wednesday, launching their “Don’t Slow Us Down!” campaign and urging voters to vote against the measure.

“Each year our firefighters and paramedics respond to more than 500,000 calls for service — and in an emergency, every second counts,” Freddy Escobar, president of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, said in a statement. “HLA will increase response times, impede evacuations during mass emergencies, and endanger the public by slowing us down.”

Councilwoman Traci Park joined the firefighters Wednesday morning in downtown Los Angeles. Park, who has concerns about the impacts of the measure and has expressed opposition to it, said the measure will fail to accomplish its goals.

“HLA is a $3 billion boondoggle that will result in a patchwork of road diets to nowhere,” she said in a statement.

Matthew Szabo, the city administrative officer, wrote in a financial impact statement that the measure’s cost could exceed $2.5 billion over 10 years. There are some costs that are still unknown, and the city may face an increase of litigation costs — since residents would be able to sue the city for failing to implement street modifications under the measure.

He also noted that the measure could reduce street repavement efforts, which could result in an estimated cost of $73 million to $139 million for every year of delay.

On Feb. 7, council members Park, John Lee and Paul Krekorian introduced a motion calling for reports that would encapsulate the total cost of implementing the measure, and impacts to scheduled street resurfacing and slurry sealing.

They expressed concerns over the measure and the potential impact on the city’s finances, noting the city had to recently enter a “managed hiring plan” to offset a projected $140 million deficit that could balloon to about $400 million in the next fiscal year due to overspending.

The council members also mentioned how residents are demanding “urgent solutions” to homelessness, affordable housing and public safety.

On the other hand, Raman, Soto-Martinez and Harris-Dawson believe the city can “successfully” implement the measure using various sources of revenue.

They also said the measure could address ongoing issues with public safety. In 2023, the LAPD reported 336 traffic-related fatalities, an increase of 8% from 2022, which also exceeded the number of homicides in the city.

Nearly two-thirds of those deaths, about 203, were people walking or bicycling. In the past five years, more than 1,500 Angelenos have been seriously injured annually in traffic collisions.

“The proponents of Measure HLA argue that the city has fundamentally failed to translate the funding we already have into progress on our safety, access, sustainability and equity goals,” the motion reads. “At the same time, despite unprecedented investment, pavement quality has remained virtually flat.”

Raman, Soto-Martinez and Harris-Dawson added, “This is a significant investment, but well within the city’s financial capacity after factoring in state and federal grants, partnerships with Metro, and efficiencies from better alignment between our maintenance programs and our capital planning.”

Council members Heather Hutt, Katy Yaroslavsky and Eunisses Hernandez have also backed Measure HLA.

Both motions will be taken up with the City Council’s Public Works Committee at a future meeting.

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