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    HomeNewsWest Hollywood Residents Protest Loss of Parking Spaces for Bike Lanes on...

    West Hollywood Residents Protest Loss of Parking Spaces for Bike Lanes on Gardner St

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    Roughly 50 West Hollywood residents gathered at the Vista Lawn at Plummer Park for a community roundtable to express their outrage over the city council’s decision to move forward with a plan to convert existing angled street parking on Gardner Street to parallel parking at the cost of street parking spaces. The purpose is to provide the right-of-way to construct protected bike lanes along the entire corridor length between Fountain Avenue and Willoughby Avenue.

    Residents were angry to learn that the change would reduce the supply of street parking by 22 spaces (from 39 to 17) and that they were not properly notified of the impact on their street.

    At a regular West Hollywood City Council meeting on Monday, March 18, 2024, a city staff report presented to the council acknowledged that with the proposed implementation of the Fountain Avenue Streetscape project, parking demand on Gardner Street may increase. However, the plan is justified on the grounds that by reallocating space from parking to wider sidewalks or bike lanes, the streets become safer for pedestrians and cyclists, reducing the risk of accidents and promoting active transportation.

    Council members Lauren Meister and John Heilman expressed concerns that residents on Gardner Street were not properly made aware that they would be losing spaces to park in a neighborhood where most apartment buildings don’t offer enough parking to their tenants. Heilman said he remembered why the council voted to have cars park at an angle on the stretch many years ago, which was because there wasn’t enough parking in that area.

    Vice Mayor Chelsea Byers made a motion to move forward with Option 1A, stating that staff could make adjustments as issues come up. The motion was seconded by council member Sepi Shyne. The item passed 3-2 with Mayor Erickson, Vice Mayor Byers, and council member Shyne voting for and council members Heilman and Meister voting against.

    The decision led to outraged residents at Plummer Park this past Sunday, of which 16 were directly impacted on Gardner Street. Community members were especially enraged over an interaction between Mayor Erickson and Senior Transportation Planner Bob Cheung, in which Cheung admitted that residents impacted by the bike lanes were made aware of the plans in general; however, they were not notified that they would be losing parking on their street as part of the plan.

    It was an oversight that Vice Mayor Byers boldly said she did not have a problem with, stating that “Cyclists are going to need a way to have safe access to Fountain, and bike lanes are that. I do not want to compromise bicyclists’ safety for motorists’ convenience, period.”

    Cathy Blaivas, the organizer of the gathering, called the community outreach to order to inform the residents who will be affected by the change in parking on Gardner. She told WEHO TIMES she hopes a resident on Gardner will take the reins and get everyone who will be impacted by the proposed bike lanes to attend meetings and express their opposition to their loss of parking.

    Sixty-year resident Celia Artinjian, who is disabled and lives with her 85-year-old mother, called it insane that they want to remove parking when there is already a lack of parking where she lives. “The only way we can stop this is as a community,” she said. “We all need to get together and take care of this. We have to take care of each other because obviously the city council is not… I have a problem with this because we have the flashing stop signs and they don’t stop at the stop signs. They don’t stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks. We’re going to have a bunch of dead bike riders on Gardner because they’re not going to stop for them.”

    “I think that the situation that we have right now is a little bit unsettling,” said 12-year resident Chris Ranier. “A lot of times we feel very underrepresented on the east side of West Hollywood. This is just another example of the city council not speaking to anybody, not listening to anybody.”

    Chris Ranier – WEHO TIMES

    West Hollywood candidate for City Council George Nickle said he wasn’t there as a politician, but rather as a fed-up resident. He then made a political speech calling out the process and calling out the current city council majority for making decisions based on personal ideology. “You can fight city hall. You want to know how I know? Because these trees are still here, and these women made that happen,” he said in reference to Cathy Blaivas and her partner Stephanie Harker, who successfully ran a campaign to save the trees and Great Hall/Long Hall and Fiesta Hall at Plummer Park.

    Council member Lauren Meister was among supporters and friends at the gathering. She pointed out that she asked to postpone the portion of the approval pertaining to parking until the residents were up to speed on what was happening, but her colleagues did not listen. She encouraged everyone to speak during public comment at the next council meeting because the construction costs would have to be approved by council. “My understanding is that it will have to come back to us for fiscal financial approval,” she said. “At the time, I would say absolutely, everyone should show up and say this cannot happen.”

    She also said that loss of parking spaces on Fountain Avenue due to bike lanes was not a done deal as the City was pursuing a Streetscape project for a more holistic approach.

    Council member Meister also called out special interest groups behind some of the decisions being made around bicycle lanes. Among those she listed was the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition. Kevin Burton, who represents the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition, braved what he called the lion’s den to point out that there is a lot of misinformation in the media and that several meetings about the bike lanes were had. However, he agreed that staff did not do a great job in informing the community of lost parking spaces.

    When approached for comment, Mayor John Erickson called the gathering a campaign event for George Nickle and provided the flier below from social media groups to make his point.

    Mayor Erickson listed the following bullet points summarizing the city’s efforts of the outreach effort to date:

    • First Community Workshop (in-person) – July 2017
    • Demonstration Project – February to August 2022
    • Second Community Workshop – August 25th, 2022
    • Third Community Workshop – August 27th, 2022.

    He stated that per the City Council’s direction, City Staff will be conducting additional outreach to residents on Gardner regarding the loss of parking. He added that staff and consultants have been looking into the design of Gardner between Fountain and Lexington and they may have an improved option that would minimize parking loss.

    The next West Hollywood City Council Meeting will be on Monday, April 15, 2024, starting at 6 p.m. for those who wish to make a public comment.

    To learn more about the Willoughby Ave, Kings Rd, and Vista/Gardner Street Design Project, visit this link.

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    Paulo Murillo
    Paulo Murillohttps://wehotimes.com
    Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, which include the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, where he covered breaking news and local events in West Hollywood. He can be reached at [email protected]

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    P S
    P S
    Offline
    2 months ago

    How refreshing, a candidate for city council who actually listens to the people who live here & not the influential special interest groups. Thanks George!

    Thomas S
    Thomas S
    Offline
    2 months ago

    Clown show continues to do the WRONG thing. For those that voted them in this is your fault. The Fountain ave plan should have been a RED flag but no no. These people are CLUELESS at any effects of change.
    Disrupt and PROTEST at City Hall.
    Not Plummer park.

    Tom
    Tom
    Offline
    2 months ago

    however, they were not notified that they would be losing parking on their street as part of the plan.”

    This is not true. There was outreach about these projects going back 2 years to 2022. The plan that is being implemented is similar to what was proposed then. Community workshops received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

    S. J. Harker
    S. J. Harker
    Offline
    Reply to  Tom
    2 months ago

    Staff is on tape live stating they DID NOT TELL THE RESIDENTS THEY WERE TAKING AWAY PARKING. IT is true.

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