Sidewalk - Photo courtesy of Gordon Chaffin on Unsplash

Los Angeles Council President Nury Martinez and four other council members introduced a motion Wednesday aimed at streamlining the implementation of the city’s Mobility Plan, which was approved in 2015 to make Los Angeles more pedestrian-friendly by 2035 but has barely been implemented.

The motion — co-introduced with council members Monica Rodriguez, Kevin de León, Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson — instructs the city attorney to prepare an ordinance, based on one proposed by the Healthy Streets LA ballot measure initiative, to have the city conduct Mobility Plan improvements while performing unrelated street resurfacing and slurry seal projects.

The Mobility Plan provided a framework to create a network of bus lanes, pedestrian-priority areas and protected bike lanes. Only 3% of the plan’s 1,500 miles of pedestrian safety improvements have been implemented, the motion states.

In introducing the motion, council members cited a 20% increase in traffic deaths in Los Angeles over the past year, despite the city’s goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2025 through the Vision Zero initiative.

The motion would prioritize projects that improve mobility for low-income, transit-dependent residents.

“Time and time again we find that working-class communities bear the brunt of the problems our city is facing,” Martinez said. “Residents in these communities deserve justice, and right now, justice is finding solutions to traffic violence that work. Traffic deaths are rising and Angelenos simply cannot wait for safe streets — their lives depend on it.”

In 2021, 295 people died in traffic-related incidents, including 132 pedestrians, according to the motion.

“Every day we fail to implement measures for pedestrian, cyclists and motorists’ safety, we put the lives of Angelenos at risk,” Harris-Dawson said. “I’d like to thank Council President Martinez for creating urgency, transparency and priority of these life-saving measures.”

The motion also seeks to create a Unified Project Coordination Office within the Board of Public Works to implement the proposed Mobility Plan Implementation Ordinance and coordinate all capital projects, work programs and grants to maximize mobility and environmental benefits.

Several city departments, including the Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Engineering, would be instructed to report on recommendations of how that new office can best implement the ordinance.

If the motion is approved and the Unified Project Coordination Office is created, the office would report to the City Council within 60 days on an implementation plan for the ordinance, including:

— the creation of a multi-year work plan that includes adequate time for engineering, coordination and engagement;

— prioritization of corridors in the High Injury network in a way that addresses racial and economic marginalization; and

— a public engagement strategy that allows feedback on the proposed implementation plan.

The motion also seeks to develop a funding plan for implementation, including through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the American Rescue Plan Act, state funding and L.A. Metro funding and sales tax revenue.

The motion credited the Alliance for Community Transit – Los Angeles, LA Walks and People for Mobility Justice for their advocacy that equity be at the center of policy around street improvements.

“Most transit riders as well as many people killed or hurt by traffic violence while walking or biking are from historically red-lined and under-invested neighborhoods,” said Laura Raymond, director of the Alliance for Community Transit – Los Angeles. “Our street, sidewalk and bus infrastructure improvement efforts must advance equity and racial justice and this motion is an exciting step in the right direction.”

John Yi, executive director of LA Walks, said:

“This ordinance is an important step in making sure we deliver safe streets and better infrastructure to all Angelenos. It’s time we start treating our sidewalks, pedestrian, and bike infrastructure as the critical assets they are.”

The motion was not immediately scheduled for a vote.

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