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Using City Property to Make Our Lives Worse.

 

Gerald discusses the Proposed Development of the T Lot.

 

The biggest issue in the last City Council election was traffic.  Every candidate paid lip service to the concept of reducing traffic congestion.

 

The traffic in our city is often maddening.  We need ideas for reducing the problem, not a project that is guaranteed to make traffic a lot worse.

 

Thus, I find it amazing that our City Council has been working with a large developer to create a plan for a large development of the City owned T lot, a large open space north of Wilshire Boulevard, between Beverly Drive and Canon Drive.  Such development would supposedly include a hotel, luxury condominiums, retail space and parking.

 

Wilshire Boulevard and Beverly Drive are both important streets for many residents who are just trying to get around.  The last thing we need is a project that will generate hundreds of extra cars on these streets.  This project is like squirting a drowning man with a fire hose. 

 

If the City Council could first address the traffic problem, then such a project might be bearable, but even then, I would like to know a lot more about the alleged commitment of up to $30 million of public funds to this project and the proposed revenue sharing arrangement. 

 

I would also like to see an open process involving more than one potential developer.  An open bidding process would protect us from cronyism.  I realize that the proposed developer owns adjoining property.  However, the T lot seems large enough to support its own project, and there appears to have been insufficient consideration of alternative uses that might have far less impact on our traffic problem.

 

I am so sick of the traffic problem that I am going to take the time to suggest three solutions:

 

  1. Shuttle Busses.  Lots of traffic occurs in the mornings and afternoons as children are transported to and from school.  Often, there are only one or two children in each car.  If there were shuttle busses running back and forth along Gregory and Charleville, such busses could handle most of the students attending Beverly Vista, Horace Mann and the High School.  If this worked, then a similar system could be developed for Hawthorne and El Rodeo.  Also, during school hours, the busses could be used to transport seniors and/or tourists around town.  Obviously, there would be details to be worked out and tradeoffs with this approach, but I believe that it merits consideration.

 

  1. Carpooling Incentives.  Lots of people work in Beverly Hills.  They work in office buildings, retail stores, restaurants and other commercial enterprises.  Other cities have had some success in reducing traffic by offering tax breaks to businesses that promote carpooling.  As a resident, I would rather see two or people per car than two or three cars Ė carpooling could greatly reduce the traffic problem.  Granting financial incentives to carpool is a proven technique for reducing traffic.  Also, as my wife noted when she read the first draft of this column, the school district could do a lot better job encouraging and facilitating carpooling, thereby reducing traffic in the mornings and afternoons.

 

  1. Better Traffic Signal Coordination.  In an age of computers, I canít understand why we canít afford better microchips in our traffic signals.  An intersection that I use a lot is Camden and Olympic.  If I am going south on Camden and want to turn left onto Olympic, I sometimes have to wait a couple of minutes, even late at night when there is almost no traffic on Olympic.  The only way to get the light to change faster is to drive back and forth over the underground sensor three or four times.  Also, itís stupid for the lights on the cross streets (such as Camden) to change and stop all the traffic on Olympic and Wilshire when there is no one on the cross street who will benefit.  I would estimate that there are thousands of unnecessary stops every day in Beverly Hills that could be eliminated if the signals were upgraded.

 

 I realize that all three of my ideas would cost money Ė precious funds that could otherwise be gloriously used on such vital projects as fountains in the industrial center or parking for a childrenís theatre that will be used a few hours every week.  There is no glory in taking difficult, expensive steps to reduce the traffic problem.  No monument, no sizzle, no insider deals, no political hijinx. 

 

Maybe if we offered to name streets after council members who solve the traffic problem, they will actually make an effort?  At this point, I would be willing to support almost anything to make the traffic better.

 

In the meantime, the next time it takes you twenty minutes to get a mile or two down one of our busy streets, please appreciate that traffic could be a lot worse, and will get a lot worse if the T lot project goes forward.

 

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