On Wednesday, August 26, at 6:30 p.m., the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services’ Streets LA program will host an online public meeting to introduce and seek public comment on Uplift Melrose, a proposal to implement “exciting and transformative improvements” along 22 blocks of Melrose Ave. between Fairfax and Highland Avenues.
According to the Bureau of Street Services, Uplift Melrose is a ““Complete Streets” roadway reconfiguration plan, designed to improve safety by discouraging pass-through traffic, and providing safety measures that will encourage more “active transportation” such as biking and walking. The program would also provide more space for pedestrians and bikes, and would increase the tree canopy and overall green space in the the area.
The City’s project briefing says the program was primarily developed – with input from local businesses and neighbors, and the office of City Council Member Paul Koretz – to address current safety and traffic issues on Melrose, which “falls within the City’s High Injury Network and is slated for separated bikeways per the Los Angeles Mobility 2035 Plan.”
But the improvements proposed for Melrose would go further than just bike lanes. According to the plan, street improvements and projected benefits in the project area would include:
- Activated pedestrian public space
- Separated bikeways at sidewalk grade
- Sidewalk curb extensions (a.k.a. “bumpouts”) at corners which will reduce pedestrian crossing lengths for increased safety
- An average of approx. 8,000 sq. ft. of new pedestrian space per block (increasing total pedestrian space in the area from approximately 3 acres to 7 acres)
- Raised east/west crosswalks (a.k.a. “speed tables”) for pedestrians and bikers
- Space for pedestrian amenities including more lighting, trees, wayfinding signage, outdoor dining, landscaping, etc.
- Significant reduction in the health hazards associated with urban heat due to increased tree canopy cover
- Reduction in air pollution
And the “trade-offs” to make those benefits possible would include:
- Roadway reconfiguration (fewer vehicular travel lanes)
- No left turns off of Melrose for vehicles except at Fairfax, La Brea, and Highland
- Street parking reductions
In general, the various elements could be combined like this at the various intersections along Melrose:
Which could transform the streetscape from views like this…
…to views like this:
Under the current proposal, Uplift Melrose’s improvements would be paid for with grant funding. An initial grant, won by the city in 2015, provided $3.9 million for some smaller safety and beautification improvements…and the city is now hoping to apply for a $50 million Active Transportation Program Cycle 5 grant, from CalTrans, to fund the rest of the program. The grant application is due in mid-September, which is why the Bureau of Street Services is seeking approval for the general Uplift Melrose concept right now. If stakeholders and local government agencies express support for the idea, the grant application will be submitted, and then – if the grant is awarded – much more public outreach on the project will be scheduled before specific design details are finalized and the program is implemented.
At its August 11 board meeting, the Mid City West Community Council discussed the proposal in depth, with a presentation from Alexander Caiozzo, Bureau of Street Services, Tim Fremeaux, from the LA Department of Transportation, and landscape architect Jeff Palmer.
After the city presentation at the meeting, Debbie Dyner Harris, District Director for City Council Member Paul Koretz, noted that Koretz has worked with the city on the forumulation of the Uplift Melrose Plan, but that he also hasn’t yet given it his full support and would like to hear more about how local stakeholders feel about it. Her remarks were followed by comments from 44 members of the public, 34 of whom said they were very much in favor of the project, and many of whom also said that if implemented, the program would set a great example for other neighborhoods and cities.
Among the remaining 10 commenters, most expressed largely favorable opinions but also said they were concerned about how the changes would affect traffic and parking on other neighborhood local streets, and how the project might also accelerate gentrification and the loss of unique small businesses and residental tenants with more modest incomes. They and the few commenters who felt such issues outweigh the potential benefits of the project asked for much more study before moving forward.
After the public comments at the MCWCC meeting, several board members echoed the stakeholders’ traffic and parking concerns, and requested that much more community outreach be done. In the end, however, the vote was firmly in favor of supporting the general Uplift Melrose concept and the city’s grant application for further funding, with 29 voting in favor, two members opposed, and one abstention.
if you would like to learn more about Uplift Melrose, or make your voice heard on the project, you can join the meeting on Wednesday evening, see the project website at https://streetsla.lacity.org/melrose , contact Alexander Caiozzo at the Bureau of Street Services, and/or take taking the city’s online survey (it’s quick and easy – just eight multiple-choice questions).
EXCITING!!!! CAN’T WAIT.