By Raymond Klein, February 13, 2015
LA-Many of us are experiencing afternoon commute times of over an hour
to go a short distance. The LA Times recently quoted the Chief Operating
Officer of a growing business with 200 employees. They are excited
about moving from Santa Monica’s Colorado Center to new offices in
Westwood: “We can’t wait to move. Just driving from Santa Monica to the
405 Freeway right now is sometimes taking some employees from 45 minutes
to one hour and 15 minutes to go three miles. It’s a waste of time.”
Brentwood, we often have similar drive times of one hour on Sunset Blvd
at 3:30 - 6:30pm between Kenter Ave and the 405 Freeway, a distance of
less than 1.5 miles. Quality of life is severely degraded by the City
approving more density without the supporting infrastructure. It’s not
only the frustration of sitting in traffic - - our lives and property
are at an undue risk due to paramedics, fire and police unable to timely
reach an emergency.
Added to the tsunami of cars, Los Angeles
also suffers from the methodology that the LA Department of
Transportation uses to analyze traffic. LADOT needs to furnish decision
makers with a simulation of impacts on travel time on a discrete
corridor instead of using the current intersection rating system.
doesn’t look at the impact of a development project on the time it
takes to drive a given distance. Instead, they look only at each
separate signalized intersection, and give the intersection a rating of
"A" - "F" based upon the volume of cars compared to “capacity.”
rating an intersection by considering all approaches to an intersection
provides little value when there is one direction (such as travelling
to the 405) that is more congested with long queues and only a few cars
able to go through the intersection during each green light cycle.
A rating of "E" is defined as "the most vehicles intersection
approaches can accommodate." Yet maximum capacity can still be exceeded,
because an overcapacity of cars can then result in a rating of "F".
When even more cars are added to an overcapacity "F" intersection, LADOT
may nevertheless conclude that these additional cars would have no
In real life, once a glass is filled to the top with water, you know what a mess you have if you try to add more water.
City decision makers are not getting an accurate representation of the
impacts necessary to make important land use decisions about proposed
discretionary Projects. What would be more meaningful to a City
Councilperson – that a Project’s impacts will turn several intersections
from “E” to “F”, or that the impacts will result in an extra 45 minutes
to go 1.5 miles? We should measure what matters – commute times.
LADOT hides its deficient analysis with this mumbo-jumbo rating
methodology instead of providing the City Planning Department, City
Council, and the public with useful information that matters to all of
us - - how much more time will it take me to drive a given distance at
simulation software exists, but LADOT refuses to use it. Are we afraid
to admit that many of our roads simply can't handle more cars?
Information about excessive additional travel time would make it clear
that certain projects should be severely downsized, or not built at all.