The Los Angeles City Council readopted its landmark transportation framework, called Mobility Plan 2035 (MP2035), after the original adoption faced litigation.
Originally approved in August, MP2035 is a revision of the city’s 1999 Transportation Element that includes designating road networks to give priority seperately to vehicles, goods movement, public transit, bicycles and pedestrians.
Citing an “abundance of caution,” 12 council members approved sending three amendments included with the plan’s first approval – regarding equity, safety and the city council’s role in implementation of the plan – to the city’s planning commission (CPC) after the nonprofit group Fix The City (FTC) challenged the city’s approval. FTC claims the city council violated the city charter that requires members to refer amendments to the planning commission and the mayor.
“We’re here today because we have been sued on the grounds that we changed direction from CPC which would require us to send them back to CPC,” said Councilman Jose Huizar, 14th District. He explained the planning commission will consider the three amendments this month and will consider at least six others in February.
Councilman Mike Bonin, 11th District, said the readoption ensures the city council is on the “soundest legal footing.” But an attorney representing FTC, Beverly Grossman Palmer, said the city council’s actions last week do not change FTC’s intention to challenge MP2035. She said the group is evaluating its original lawsuit but that it will likely be filing another one to reflect the latest actions.
“The city council’s efforts to address its botched process for approving MP2035 create further legal problems for the city and do not remedy the original error,” FTC said in a statement.
The group cites “repeated failure” of the city council to adhere to the requirements of CEQA, the City Charter, the General Plan and state planning laws.
“The council is not following an appropriate path to remedy its errors,” the group said in a statement. “The council cannot simply act as if it has the power to erase its blunder by simply acting as though it had never made it.”
The group said MP2035 is now a new plan without the amendments and must go through the approval process again.
FTC also questions the validity of the plan’s projected benefits because the recirculated environmental impact review acknowledges that MB2035 could result in significant, unavoidable impacts, such as increased congestion, intrusion of traffic into residential neighborhoods and diminished access to neighborhoods affecting response time of emergency responders.
“In fact, MP2035 is an immobility plan that will have significant unmitigatable impacts,” FTC’s court documents read.
Bonin said the plan is about giving Angelenos an opportunity to “get out of the increasing, soul-sucking gridlock that we have in this city. It is about stopping the process which we have now – which forces people into their cars – and giving them an alternative.”
Bonin said 47 percent of the trips made in the city are three miles or less, and 84 percent of those are made by vehicles.
“That doesn’t make a lot of sense in a city that has 300 days of sunshine and is relatively flat,” he said.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office responded to FTC’s claims in a court document submitted Tuesday.
“The city denies each and every allegation,” the document repeatedly read in response to almost every paragraph of Fix The City’s claims, “based on lack of sufficient information or belief.”
Councilman David Ryu, 4th District, and Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, voted against the readoption motion.
Ryu said at a joint committee meeting in November that 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 also raised concerns about possible unintended consequences for traffic, safety and first responders.
Koretz said he will not vote to approve the plan until the Westwood Boulevard bike lane designation is removed and replaced with a commitment to identify possible alternatives to link the bike lane from Wilshire Boulevard to UCLA. Koretz’s office said the planning commission is working on an additional amendment to remove the bike lane designation from Westwood. The amendment will be made public in February.
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