Much of the opposition to Villaraigosa’s plan emanates from the Pico-Robertson area, a heavily Jewish enclave that features a mix of auto body shops, dental offices, bakeries by the dozen, Israeli and Persian markets, Thai eateries, Catholic churches, synagogues and Chinese restaurants, including a kosher place with mezuzas on the doorways. The elements of this urban hodgepodge have set aside any cultural and ethnic differences to battle City Hall with a united front.
“The opposition is across the board from La Brea to Centinela,” said Scott McNeely, co-chairman of the Pico Neighborhood Council. “They’re going to do this at the expense of local businesses.” McNeely said he surveyed local businesses and found that many feared a loss of several hundred dollars a day in sales if rush-hour parking was eliminated.
Los Angeles transportation officials have said the plan would provide consistency for drivers along two important thoroughfares where rush-hour parking restrictions are intermittent. Despite that intention, officials last month suggested that they might allow some rush-hour parking on the north side of Pico to assuage opponents.
Meanwhile, residents are worked up about another issue that they say is related to the traffic plan. The city has been quietly considering extending the hours that nonresidents could park in “preferential parking” zones in neighborhoods. Residents of many neighborhoods in the Pico-Olympic corridor have resorted to permit-only parking to prevent restaurant valets and business customers from parking cars for extended periods on residential streets.
Some critics of the city’s no-parking plan see a connection. If the city eliminates peak-hour parking, more restaurants would have to use valet services, “which means they will have to encroach on residential areas,” said Jay Handal, chairman of the West Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. “To do that they would have to amend preferential parking.”
Local transportation officials have come up with a list of about a dozen potential subway routes on the Westside, with most of the corridors following either Wilshire Boulevard or Santa Monica Boulevard — or both.
All of the routes, along with other mass transit options for the congested Westside, will be discussed at a series of public meetings that begin tonight. Officials with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will study the feasibility of the routes before releasing their preference this spring.
The subway project, estimated to cost $5 billion to $7 billion, has no funding and has not undergone a required environmental review. Nor has a new subway been approved by the MTA board, which consists mostly of elected officials and their appointees.
The route proposals are part of an ongoing “alternatives study” to determine what kind of mass transit would best serve the Westside. The MTA’s proposed routes were based on public comment received in recent months.
The many different routes are expected to spur discussion. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, for example, has touted a line that follows Wilshire through Beverly Hills, before veering south to Century City. The line would swing back north to rejoin Wilshire near UCLA in Westwood.