The Mobility Plan 2035 (MP2035) that Los Angeles added to its General Plan earlier this year is now the subject of pending litigation against the city.
The lawsuit contends that the city council’s approval of MP2035’s amendments did not comply with procedures prescribed in the city charter, so Councilman Mike Bonin, 11th District, and Councilman Jose Huizar, 14th District, presented a motion Tuesday to recommend rescinding the plan’s adoption and its amendments, as well as adopting the plan as it was originally presented in May without the alterations.
The transportation committee and planning, land use management (PLUM) committee met in a closed session with city attorneys to discuss the lawsuits filed against the city by Fix The City and Hollywoodians Encouraging Logical Planning.
Fix The City called Bonin and Huizar’s motion a “last-ditch attempt to rescue” MP2035.
“The city is attempting to fix its first mistake by making the very same mistake again: namely improperly amending the general plan. In trying to fix their mistake, the city has acknowledged a key claim of Fix The City’s lawsuit,” the group said.
The plan, approved in August, aimed to get more of the
3.8 million people in Los Angeles out of their cars by installing hundreds of miles of new bus, bike and pedestrian-friendly lanes over the next 20 years. It is a revision of the 1999 Transportation Element of the General Plan that is supposed to transforms streets for all users and to guide mobility decisions in Los Angeles through 2035 – when the population is projected to increase to 4.3 million people.
“While the city’s reputation as a car culture is not unfounded, this legacy has often ignored the early and continued presence of pedestrians, bicyclists, trains, streetcars and delivery trucks traveling through our city,” the plan stated.
Nine amendments were introduced and three of them were adopted with the plan in August. But concerns from residents, neighborhood councils and Fix The City about the process used in adopting the plan, along with its amendments, were the topic of discussion Tuesday at a joint meeting between the two committees.
Fix The City contends in its lawsuit that the city council improperly passed the plan by amending it without submitting the amended plan to the planning commission as required by the city charter. The group also believes the plan is flawed as a whole.
“We support encouraging alternatives to motor vehicles,” the group said in a statement on its website. “MP2035 is not a mobility plan – it is a plan designed to create immobility while enabling increased development and density. In fact, this so-called mobility plan states that it will increase traffic congestion by, among other things, removing traffic lanes used by cars for buses and bikes.”
Based on the analysis in the recirculated draft environmental impact report, the MP2035 would create “significant and unavoidable” impacts such as increased congestion along certain roads and freeways, parking, safety, neighborhood intrusion, emergency response access and noise.
Fix The City claims that LAFD response times, due to insufficient resources, have been getting worse since 2012. The city’s fire department aims to arrive within five minutes at least 90 percent of the time. That number has fallen to less than 60 percent for the city, according to the group.
Fix The City claims that MP2035’s hidden agenda is to increase density.
“Far more than being a mobility plan, MP2035 is actually a development-enablement plan which will have a dramatic effect on increased density in the city with all of its impacts,” the group said on its website.
The group is also not buying the city’s claims that the plan will reduce pollution. Cars and trucks contribute to 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The plan, therefore, concludes that less vehicle miles driven will improve the region’s air quality.
“It is well established in the literature, and in common sense, that increasing congestion and therefore the time vehicles are operating leads to increasing air pollution,” the statement read.
The amendments that were adopted with the plan in August included considering community input before projects are implemented; ensuring that council members have a role in the plan’s future; ensuring emergency responders can effectively serve; ensuring equity is an implementation a factor; and ensuring safety will be a priority.
“The city can amend the general plan (which now contains the amended Mobility Plan 2035) only by starting over and obeying Charter Section 555 and other relevant sections. All amendments can be heard at that time by the planning commission and mayor as required. There are no legal short-cuts,” claimed Fix The City.
Councilmen Gil Cedillo, 1st district, and Ryu, 4th District, strongly criticized the process that approved the plan. Cedillo said no public meetings were held about the plan in his district.
“I’m of the mind that this needs to be sent back to start over with fuller vetting and more participation,” Cedillo said.
Ryu said there is no doubt that Los Angeles needs a viable plan to enhance public safety and mobility in its neighborhoods.
“But I was elected to do more to truly engage impacted communities,” he said. “We must put significant value on neighborhood input. Otherwise, we open ourselves to strong community opposition, mistrust and more litigation.”
Ryu raised concerns about possible unintended consequences for traffic, safety and first responders.
Comments from Angelenos at the meeting were split. Some commended anticipated safety improvements. Others spoke out in direct contrast, citing safety concerns, and the lack of community meetings in their neighborhoods. Some said they were never asked for input, making the plan “one-sided,” among other complaints.
“We don’t understand why you have so much trouble following the law,” said Laura Lake, with Fix The City. “This plan confuses access with mobility. Take it back to the planning commission. Start over and engage everyone in the city.”
According to the city’s report on the plan, open dialogue has been integral to each step of the planning process. Since the inception of the MP2035 in 2011, the project’s staff has participated in more than 100 community meetings, according to staff reports. Materials were also disseminated to neighborhood councils.
Bonin said the outreach for the mobility plan was the “most exhaustive” of any General Plan update. He supports the plan because he believes Los Angeles has a system that forces people into their cars. He also countered that MP2035 puts safety first.
The PLUM committee voted 3-2 in favor of recommending that the city council approve the motion to rescind and readopt. The transportation committee’s vote was tied, 2-2.
Fix The City’s attorney, Beverly Grossman Palmer, said if council members take the recommendation, a change in their lawsuit would only be technical. She said no dates are set yet for hearings for the lawsuit.
Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, said he is not sure when Bonin and Huizar’s motion will go to the full city council, but he expects it will in the next few weeks.
Committee members also voted to send the amendments to the planning commission. Ken Bernstein, with the department of city planning, said the three amendments that were approved will likely be considered in December, and the others will be considered in February.
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