Take Back The Boulevard

Eagle Rock, CA

August 18, 2013
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Comments Off on Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan Introduction – September 29, 2013

Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan Introduction – September 29, 2013

From the very beginning this initiative was focused on the larger vision of how Colorado Boulevard could be improved.  Although many often viewed TBTB as strictly a bike line oriented effort, the goal has always been to improve how Colorado Boulevard serves the community in a large variety of ways.  These goals and aspirations are now comprehensively documented in the Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan, a new document that provides a long-term road map, beyond the reduction of travel lanes and the implementation of bike lanes, detailing how the Boulevard can continue to be improved.

On Sunday, September 29 at 2PM, Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock / 2250 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, the TBTB Team invites the community to join us as we roll-out the Colorado Boulevard Vision Plan, a long-range document that details a broad range of improvements to the Boulevard that were identified by Eagle Rockers in the many community meetings held for the last two years.

May 28, 2013
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Take Back the Boulevard – Update May 27, 2013

Help Make it Safer:

Early on in the Take Back the Boulevard Initiative process the community identified making Colorado a safer boulevard as a primary goal.  Abundant evidence exists indicating that slowing down or “calming” traffic is a well-proven technique to make a street safer.  Removing a traffic lane and installing a bike lane are two of the strategies that are being considered to slow down the Boulevard.  Many prior meeting participants have rightly pointed out that if this change is not done correctly, new safety concerns could be introduced.  Responding to those and other similar concerns, on June 3, our Councilmember, José Huizar is hosting a community meeting at which there will be an opportunity to participate in a dialog on how to optimize the future design of Colorado Boulevard.  More details regarding the meeting are provided below.  Please participate and be part of the effort to make Colorado the best Main Street it can be for Eagle Rock.


Council District 14

Community Meeting – Colorado Blvd. Bike and Traffic Improvement Plan – June 3, 7PM at Center for the Arts,

2225 Colorado Boulevard. LA 90041


Residents and neighbors,
It has been two months since Council District 14, in partnership with the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, The Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce and The Eagle Rock Association, hosted the Colorado Boulevard Bike Town Hall Meeting at Occidental College. Since then, the proposal for bike lanes on Colorado has been the topic of many conversations.

After listening to many comments and points of view, one of the biggest concerns of people from all perspectives is the safety of those who live, work and visit Eagle Rock. For this reason, CD 14 asked LADOT to address some of the specific safety and traffic flow concerns community members have suggested to improve Colorado Boulevard for all those who use it.

We do believe community input is critical and want to set up one more meeting to hear your thoughts and concerns on LADOT’s latest plan.

LADOT will present their findings with adjusted designs for your perusal at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 3, 2013, at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts.

Your input is critical to this process and we invite you to view and comment on LADOT’s revised Colorado Boulevard Bike Lane proposal.

LADOT and Councilmember Huizar will be present to answer any questions you have. If you need further information, please call the CD 14 Northeast office at (323) 254-5295.

May 14, 2013
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Comments Off on TBTB Update – May 10, 2013

TBTB Update – May 10, 2013

Occidental College, CERB and Boulevard Merchants Say Yes to a New Colorado Boulevard: Take Back the Boulevard is focused on the broad agenda of making Colorado Boulevard work better for everyone including businesses.  A more equitable sharing of the Boulevard by motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists is an important goal.  Making the Boulevard feel and function more like a small-town main street is an aspiration that benefits everyone.  Improving the safety of the street, which currently has a concerning safety record, is something that virtually all of the community wants to see accomplished.  Promoting an attractive business environment is definitely part of the plan.

Recently letters of support for the reduction of travel lanes and the introduction of bike lanes were received from Occidental College, Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful and over 40 supportive Colorado Boulevard merchants.  More support is still coming in.  Supportive merchants understand the advantages of traffic moving more slowly by their establishments rather than whizzing by with no awareness of the businesses located on the Boulevard.  Naturally, there are merchants who want no changes to be made to the Boulevard, they like it just the way it is.

Some business benefits have already been implemented.  Improved signage was installed making the availability of the Caspar / Merton municipal lot more visible.  Many under-utilized parking meters on the north side of the Boulevard have been changed to allow two hour parking, enough time for a haircut or a lunch.  Once the traffic lanes have been reduced to two lanes in each direction, it will be easier to cross the boulevard, further facilitating the use of parking on both sides of the boulevard.  It will also be much easier and safer to back into a parking space on Colorado through a bike lane rather than a traffic lane.  Too often today, honking horns begin the minute a driver stops to back into a space, encouraging the driver to abandon the space.  Because of the greater distance between the sidewalk and the traffic lanes, the pedestrian experience and sidewalk dining will be more pleasant.  Many Occidental College students rely on the bike-share program at the college.  We can expect them to be more present as customers as a result of the new bike lanes.

A natural concern is what will happen to traffic?  Colorado currently experiences less traffic than the six lanes were supposed to support.  This fact will moderate the traffic impact.  An important safety goal is to reduce the speed on the Boulevard – we do want it to move slower.  But fears that block long traffic jams throughout the day are unfounded.  Making a left turn is another concern that has been voiced.  The good news is that, although early in the design process, the Department of Transportation indicates, because bike lanes are not as wide as a traffic lane, the center turn lane will be made wider to making it easier for a turning vehicle to exit the traffic lane as it waits to make the turn.

The support for the initiative at the recent Department of Transportation and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council meetings provided further proof that there is considerable backing for transforming the Boulevard.  Kudos to all those in Eagle Rock who have the vision and are looking to the future, ready to help prepare our great community for the next generations of Eagle Rockers.

May 14, 2013
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TBTB Update – April 15, 2013

Bike Lanes are coming: From when I began writing this newsletter a recurring theme has been that you can make a difference. I am so happy to report that once again Eagle Rockers did get involved, they made their opinions known, and they made a difference. I applaud all, including those who did not share my passion for bike lanes, for getting involved, attending meetings, sending emails, sharing your views in blogs on Patch, etc. You made a difference, supporting a change that will transform downtown Eagle Rock.

A few days ago, at an Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council Meeting (ERNC), the vast majority of attendees (mostly Eagle Rockers) said “yes” to bike lanes and the Council listened. As a result of the strong support the Council voted to send a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in support of buffered bike lanes for Colorado Boulevard. Again at the DOT meeting held the previous week, attended by more than 100, a strong majority of the attendees expressed support for bike lanes on Colorado. Finally, for more than two years Take Back the Boulevard sponsored a series community meetings attended by more than 300 attendees. The need to slow traffic down on Colorado and doing that by changing one traffic lane in each direction to a bike lane again and again was affirmed by both meeting participants and 280 respondents to an on-line survey. If you attended a meeting, contributed to a blog, wrote emails in support or opposition, or in any other active way joined the conversation, pat yourself on the back. You got on the playing field and you made your voice heard and you made a difference!

When are the bike lanes going to happen is the obvious next question. The Department of Transportation has hinted that they may be implemented by June, 2013. However, I would not consider that a firm commitment. Like most things, it is more complicated than simply changing the stripes on the road; the stripes need to go in the right places. Engineering studies will need to be completed, detailing how bike lanes can be optimally implemented on the Boulevard. Some of the things the plans will need to consider are pedestrian crossings, the responsibility to support traffic movement, and to place the bikers at the lowest level of risk possible. Below you will find more information on what’s next after bike lanes.

The Road We Have Traveled

Re-purposing a traffic lane to a buffered bike lane on Colorado Boulevard is a key component of the plan to make Colorado Boulevard the Main Street that better serves the entire community. The Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) plan to consider for bike lanes on Colorado is part of a city-wide master plan, developed before Take Back the Boulevard’s (TBTB’s) existence. However, had there been strong community resistance to the plan, bike lanes in Eagle Rock could have been in jeopardy. TBTB’s key contribution is best represented by extensive community outreach for the last couple of years. Those meetings were not based on “pro” or “con” positions for bike lanes or anything else, but encouraged a collegial discussion of all possibilities. As a result of TBTB’s extensive community dialog, when the DOT came to our neighborhood there were many stakeholders who had participated in the TBTB discussions, they understood the benefits that fewer traffic lanes and new bike lanes would bring to Eagle Rock, and they spoke in support of the DOT plan at both the DOT and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council meetings. It is true and logical that many who spoke in support were bikers who live in and around Eagle Rock. They are stakeholders as much as anyone else. After all, if the meetings were about dog parks, wouldn’t you expect dog owners to be well represented?

The focus of the initiative now moves on to other changes to the Boulevard that will further contribute to the goals of safety, greater pedestrian appeal, and create a Main Street atmosphere that is attracts businesses and patrons. Additional cross walks are being pursued with the DOT. Bumpouts, parklets, and other streetscape amenities will also be pursued. Whereas funding already existed for the bike lanes, TBTB will be required to secure funding to support further Boulevard improvements. An important part of the process of seeking funding is the ability to provide an overall vision of the goals for the Boulevard. Albeit not as quickly as I had hoped, preparation of the Master Vision Document, which provides that vision, is progressing and should be ready for distribution soon.

January 9, 2013
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Comments Off on Take Back the Boulevard Update – December 16, 2012

Take Back the Boulevard Update – December 16, 2012

Last fall a funding request for $4,900 was approved by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. However, the request was denied by City Hall because of an administrative concern. Since Maria Nazario was a member of the ERNC and she is also on the board of TERA, she did not vote on the funding request. However, since she did not leave the meeting room during the discussion, it was determined that this violated conflict of interest concerns and the request was denied.

Bob Gotham, Chair of the TBTB Steering Committee, returned to ERNC at their December meeting to repeat the request for funding. The experience was quite different from the initial request to council members who were quite informed regarding the initiative. It is clear that the new Council will exert the greatest due diligence in making decisions regarding all future funding requests. The Council is to be applauded for that care and concern.

Most of the funding provided to the community through the Neighborhoods Council grants supports current events and short term needs. Take Back the Boulevard is distinctive in that it is an investment, in the long-term future of Eagle Rock.

During the candidate forum before the ERNC election, many candidates spoke strongly in favor of Take Back the Boulevard. That support was evident at the December meeting. Thanks to the members of the “new” Neighborhood Council for their appreciation of the importance of this initiative and for once again approving the funding request. It is not anticipated there will be any issues with the request being challenged at City Hall. Thanks also to all the members of the Neighborhood Council for their service to the community.

METRO Call for Projects:
As reported in the last eLetter, Take Back the Boulevard responded the METRO’s (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation) every other year “Call for Projects.”  This call gives communities the opportunity to request funds for transportation-related projects in their area, including bicycle and pedestrian projects.  Unfortunately, our submission, which was ranked #17 out of 39, just a few points short of the cutoff, and was not approved.  It appears that nearly all of the recommended projects are near existing/proposed light rail or Orange Line stops and/or extensions/later phases of projects funded in earlier Call for Projects projects.  Given that this was our first attempt to seek funding, and did not have the added credibility of our Master Vision Document that is in progress, to be ranked 17 out of 39 submissions is respectable.

Bike Lane Update:
A key milestone in finalizing the plans for a bike lane on Colorado Boulevard is completing an Environmental Impact Report.  This report, which has been delayed several times with the latest completion date to be this month, will assess the impact on the Boulevard with the elimination of one lane of traffic.

Recently Gov. Brown signed AB2245, which, as of January 1, 2013, exempts bike lane projects from the requirements of CEQA, including a formal Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  The new law does require an analysis of traffic and safety impacts, and public hearings (although less formal than required by CEQA), so most of the work being done under the on-going EIR will be necessary.  The opportunity for challenges and resulting litigation appear more limited under the new law.

How the new will affect timing of a decision on bike lanes is unclear.  Our hope is that it will speed up the approval process…

November 19, 2012
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Take Back the Boulevard Update – November 19, 2012

Master Vision Document Status
It is not unusual for someone ask “whatever happened to Take Back the Boulevard?” The answer is that it has moved into the next phase. Initially it was critical that the community be brought together and given the opportunity to express opinions regarding how Colorado Boulevard could be made to better serve Eagle Rock. Our efforts in that key – important phase of the overall initiative process, were very visible. The next phase, due to its nature, is less visible to the community.

We are now in the process of developing the components that will identify and secure solutions, often grants, to making community-supported improvements to the Boulevard. Probably the most important task at this stage is translating the hopes and desires of the community into a document often called a Vision Plan. The plan will contain content detailing our specific goals as well as renderings and other graphics that provide the reader with a visual depiction of the changes to the Boulevard. The strength of this document will have considerable impact on our ability to win grants and support from the Department of Transportation and other agencies and sources. Given the high standards that are essential for this work product, development is taking longer than we anticipated, but this is good progress to report. The text portion of the document is about 50% complete. Ecotone Studios / Joshua Link, a local graphic artist with an impressive portfolio in this area, has agreed to design and produce the overall document, integrating the text content now being developed with graphic content that he will create. Joshua has very generously agreed to do this challenging task for a token fee of less than 10% of his usual fee. His contributions are greatly appreciated.

METRO Call for Project
Every other year, METRO (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority) issues a “Call for Projects.” This call gives communities the opportunity to request funds for transportation-related projects in their area, including bicycle and pedestrian projects. The City of Los Angeles is the formal applicant, but often submits proposals developed by community organization such as Take Back the Boulevard. Proposals are subjected to a competitive process and ranked according to various pre-established criteria; funds are awarded to the project(s) emerging from the process with the highest rankings. Take Back the Boulevard has submitted a preliminary proposal for submission by the City, which includes pedestrian projects identified through TBTB’s community planning process. Many thanks to Jeff Jacobberger – Civic Enterprises for developing what we hope will be a strong request for support.

Colorado and El Rio:
There has been considerable community feedback asking for a pedestrian crosswalk at Colorado and El Rio. This request has been submitted to the DOT. The date on which they will schedule a survey (count the number of pedestrians crossing at that location) has not yet been established. The purpose of the survey is to determine if a cross walk is justified. Wait for notice of the date; we will need your participation.

Bike Lane Update:
Colorado Boulevard is included in the city-wide master plan for bike lanes. In order to move closer to the plan being finalized for the Boulevard an EIR (Environmental Impact Report) must be completed by the city. This report examines the likely impact on traffic if one travel lane in each direction were eliminated to make the presence of bike lanes more practical. Originally the EIR was to be completed mid-year. It was subsequently rescheduled to December 2012. Results of the study will be shared as soon as available.

October 9, 2012
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Comments Off on Take Back the Boulevard Update – October 3, 2012

Take Back the Boulevard Update – October 3, 2012

One of the goals of this initiative is to turn some of the changes that the community identified as desired into reality in the near future. I am happy to report that some modest progress has been made in pursuit of that objective. With the assistance of the Council Office, requests have been sent to the DOT regarding the following modifications to Colorado Boulevard:

– Install new crosswalks at Colorado & El Rio (Bank of America Corner) and at Glen Iris and Colorado. Both of these locations represent locations where there is a logical need for pedestrians to cross the street. But lacking even the protection of a painted cross-walk, it is a risky proposition to try and cross the boulevard at those locations today. The initial requirement that must be met to justify a crosswalk is that at least 40 pedestrians are noted crossing the street within a two hour period. We are waiting to hear when that study will be conducted. Please email me if you would like to know the scheduling (president@TERA90041.org).

– Install “shark’s teeth” at Hermosa & Colorado, Eagle Rock & Colorado, and Townsend & Colorado. “Shark’s teeth” are a row of jagged forms, resembling a row of teeth that are painted on the road giving advanced warning that a cross-walk will be encountered soon. DOT has issued an order for the shark’s teeth to be installed at Hermosa and Colorado. Because Eagle Rock & Colorado and Townsend & Colorado are signaled cross-walks, they do not qualify for shark’s teeth.

October 9, 2012
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Eagle Rock Parking Day – September 21. 2012

Eagle Rock participated in the national observance of Parking Day. Parking day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. TBTB Steering Committee Members Allen Compton, Mark Vallianotos, and Chloe Renee Ziegler led the charge in planning and installing the temporary parklet. Occidental students helped staff the parklet throughout the day. Swork Coffee generously loaned planters to delineate the area. Sir Michael’s Party Rentals provided the Astroturf for the area. The adjacent merchants, Swork Coffee, Best Flowers, Michele’s Salon and Dave’s Chillin and Grillin were all enthusiastic supporters. Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen.

September 27, 2012
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Take Back the Boulevard Update – September 23, 2012

As previously reported, requests for various cross walk improvements have been submitted to the DOT by the Council Office. Efforts to get an update on the status of those requests continue.

The Master Vision Plan document, which will articulate an overall vision for the future Colorado Boulevard, and provide a framework for moving forward with various improvements, is still in the process of being developed. We revisited the approach for developing this important document. I feel that the changes we incorporated will make it a stronger and more effective document.

Friday, September 22 was national Park(ing) Day. Take Back the Boulevard sponsored a demonstration parklet on Colorado Boulevard. This will be more fully report in the next status update.

The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council approved our request for $4,900 in assistance for the 2012 – 2013 time frame. However, questions were posed regarding the validity of some supportive council members’ votes. Neighborhood Councils must adhere to city-wide rules when voting to provide financial assistance. In the broadest interpretation of the rules, since TERA is involved with Take Back the Boulevard (Financial Administrator), anyone who is a TERA member and a member of the Neighborhood Council could not vote on any TERA related financial matter that comes before the Neighborhood Council. For instance, the council president, Michael Larsen, is a TERA member. The logical intent of the guideline is to not allow an individual to vote on something in which they have the potential to receive a financial gain. That certainly makes sense. None of the questionable voters will receive any financial benefit from a grant from the Neighborhood Council that is to be used totally by Take Back the Boulevard. The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council President, Michael Larsen, is seeking guidance from the City Attorney’s Office.

In the near future we will begin the process of applying for grants. There are many factors that determine the winning applicants. One of the qualities that makes a grant application stronger is for the grant reviewers to note that the grant application includes a well-defined, easily understood vision of how the grant funds would be used. We are fortunate that a very skilled graphic artist has offered his services pro-bono and will soon begin creating photograph mock-ups of how the Boulevard might look once various improvements are implemented.

On another note, the Glendale City Council recently approved a plan that calls for roughly $5.8 million in bicycle improvements. This will add about 40 miles of bike lanes and routes, doubling the amount the city of Glendale currently has.
The City Council’s support for streetscape improvements throughout the city was recently publicized. The first projects include four new pilot parklets. Parklets are selected areas of the sidewalk made wider for street furniture, plants, bike racks, etc. They make for an improved pedestrian experience and have a traffic calming effect. Two of the new parklets are located on Spring Street downtown, another in Highland Park (York) and the last in El Sereno. With the announcement of these new parklets councilmember José Huizar remarked “I am thrilled that all four of these pilot parklets are in Council District 14.” It’s great to see more evidence of the city embracing the streetscape improvement message that Take Back the Boulevard has been putting out for over a year. However, it is reasonable to ask, with these parklets now planned for elsewhere in CD14, what happened to Eagle Rock?

Healthy income levels are typically a blessing. In this case it is both a curse and a blessing. Government led efforts to reinvigorate neighborhoods typically focus on neighborhoods with lower income and typically with the greatest need. Although the potential for Colorado Boulevard to be improved is huge, the need for streetscape improvements in the other areas of CD14 is probably more urgent. It is true that the average household income in Eagle Rock is higher than in Highland Park, downtown and El Sereno. The higher average income level in our community was an issue that precluded support when we initially approached agencies whose mission is to provide support for neighborhood improvement efforts.

Usually being proactive is a good thing, but may be of mixed benefit in this case. More than once José Huizar has pointed out that while in other areas of CD14 the council office often takes the lead in community mobilization, Eagle Rock distinguishes itself in being proactive in initiating efforts on behalf of the community. Take Back the Boulevard was born based on a community led initiative. Although the Council Office has been a strong and supportive partner in Eagle Rock’s Colorado Boulevard improvement campaign, the degree of involvement from the office has been in a supportive rather than a leadership position. The flip side is that had we not been proactive, given the comparatively healthy economics of Eagle Rock, there would probably be no active effort to improve Colorado Boulevard in existence today.

Timing is everything. Take Back the Boulevard began community meetings in August, 2011. Using York Ave. as an example, in 2006 a road diet was implemented on York. A bike corral was installed in 2010. Community meetings for the parklets began in January, 2011. Based on that initial success, the Council Office provided $100,000 to support the installation of a parklet and more. In retrospect, Take Back the Boulevard is a relatively “young” community initiative as compared to the efforts that resulted in the four pilot parklets.

Eagle Rock will get its parklets, and more. Not as soon as I wished, but in good time. Take Back the Boulevard is moving forward, following a typical life-cycle for similar initiatives.