The West Hollywood City Council Kicking the Can? I Don’t Think So

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n deciding last week to not spend almost $300,000 on an experiment to improve traffic flow on Santa Monica Boulevard (at least not yet) and a one-night party at LA Pride, the West Hollywood City Council has been criticized for “kicking the can down the road.” I think this assessment is inaccurate, unfair and doesn’t accurately reflect the reasoning for the decision that was made.

jeffrey prang
Jeffrey Prang.

Yes, one could argue that our decision delayed (for a bit) an effort to improve traffic congestion through the deployment of traffic control officers. However, I’m not certain that anyone could argue that our decision had any meaningful impact on our continuing efforts to improve LA Pride.

To use the “can” analogy, I would argue that what we did was keep the cans in the cupboard that houses our impressive $100 million cash reserve rather than pour their contents into projects that need further investigation. We have prudently saved funds over the years so that we can invest in projects like our new library, improvements at West Hollywood and Plummer Parks, public parking lots and structures and other big ticket infrastructure needs.

There’s no question that traffic flow needs to be improved in West Hollywood. But deploying sheriff’s deputies on overtime pay at a handful of intersections without supportive evidence is not the way to do it. The proposal submitted to the City Council had no evidence that the most-trafficked intersections are the most gridlocked intersections. We do not fully know what strategies other cities have done to address this problem that might work here. And why would we pay overtime to highly-trained sheriff’s deputies to do a job generally assigned to traffic control officers? Something smart needs to be done, and that’s going to take more study prior to spending $141,000 of taxpayer dollars for a three-month trial program that assigns sheriff deputies to a few hours of traffic control per day.

There’s also no question that some West Hollywood residents are unhappy with certain aspects of LA Pride. We’ve heard the criticism at City Council meetings and public hearings on the subject. But the problems that our residents and the LGBT community raise aren’t going to be fixed with a $150,000 event on a Thursday night on Santa Monica Boulevard. The solutions are going to require continued discussions with and an effort to collaborate with Christopher Street West, the non-profit group that puts on LA Pride. Will the problems be solved by this June? Not likely, given that Pride is only a little more than three months away. But I think that taking the time required to arrive at a sustainable solution that addresses the many issued raised by the community and that is accepted by both CSW and the city is a smarter investment than $150,000 spent on a party.

West Hollywood has much to be proud of — its diversity, its walkability, its creativity, the support it gives to residents in need and its unusually sound fiscal condition in a time when other cities are still struggling to recover from the recession. But it’s important to remember that we have that $100 million in our well-stocked fiscal cupboard because we’ve been careful not to raid it and open those cans without more convincing evidence that that will benefit our community.

Jeffrey Prang has served on the West Hollywood City Council since 1997.

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chloe ross
7 years ago

I am very annoyed and confused by the money spending woes and whining in WeHo – coming from the City Hall and council. We are not going to have a lovely Book Fair because it is too expensive? Gay Pride is not really a good idea because it is too expensive? Both of these events are things residents and businesses and attendees of like. No one asked anyone (as usual) how to create better events within the city (without the expense of a consultant who seems to misunderstand the idea of a book fair as a craft show). Gay Pride… Read more »

Wesley McDowell
Wesley McDowell
7 years ago

and so it goes, and so it goes. More yada, yada, yada and no actions. $100 million sure could go along way towards paying for the maintenance of the embedded crosswalk lights which Mr. Duran opposed. Just sayin’

Randy Matthews
7 years ago

Maybe overtime for sheriff’s employees doesn’t make sense, but how about getting to work on a solution that does make sense, and making it happen quickly? Traffic affects people’s daily lives. Regarding campaign reform … this came up over a year ago. All that time has gone by, and the end result is nothing. LA Pride? The discussion started over a year ago. Nobody thought that changes could be implemented before the 2013 festival, but there was optimism that improvements could be made for 2014. I do know a lot of the fault lies with CSW, and the city can’t… Read more »

Snarkygal
Snarkygal
7 years ago

Why is everybody only talking about the west side? The east side has seen the most increase in traffic with all the new developments going up. Now one of them is leasing. The real traffic problems are going to start on the east side, with two projects ready or nearly ready to lease and other projects in the construction stage or ready to start construction (can we say Movietown Plaza?). The east side is ALWAYS traffic gridlocked, with no mitigation measures taken. Try crossing the street here…

Ethan Xanderphone
7 years ago

$100 million is an impressive cash reserve. While no one wants to see it wasted, certainly some of it could be spent to improve some of the obvious problems the city faces. Does the city have a traffic plan at all? Why is there not more light-synchronization along Santa Monica Blvd? That would seem to be the easiest solution, in addition to adding control lights at the major crosswalks so that they don’t impede the flow of traffic. Has the city ever thought of pedestrian gates like Metro uses to time when pedestrians can cross at unlighted crosswalks? While Santa… Read more »

Patrick Knisely
Patrick Knisely
7 years ago

Traffic flow problems on Santa Monica Blvd. will continue to grow – the city council has made that decision already by approving every project pitched by any developer who walks in the door. It won’t matter if you have a cop on every intersection. Adding cars to an already congested city is inevitably going to make things much worse.

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 years ago

With all due respect Mr Prang we have met in person and while I think you are a really nice guy I cant help but think your comments here are more about your run for county controller than the issues of West Hollywood. I think the members of the council are more into their own self preservation and egos than whats really good for the long term betterment of West Hollywood. The actual and future record will speak for itself. Your own quote at a city sponsored meeting was that this job for you was only part time and that… Read more »

John McCormick
John McCormick
7 years ago

Dear Council members…have you ever been to Vegas…it’s called a pedestrian bridge. Invest in a few of those to keep traffic moving. Long term solution for all the growth.

shawnflannigan
shawnflannigan
7 years ago

there didn’t seem to be any hesitation before spending crazy money on stupid rainbow crosswalks or robo garages, huh??

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
7 years ago

Well, we certainly are kicking the can (or missing it altogether) when it comes to campaign finance reform, aren’t we?

Jeffrey Prang makes a sound argument. I truly appreciate a council member who engages in public debate as openly and eagerly as him.

But i have a hard time accepting the ‘fiscally conservative’ argument when we are spending $20 million on Robo Parking, where just 2 months of operation and maintenance will then cost more than the traffic control study would have cost in its entirety.

PeteP
PeteP
7 years ago

If anyone thinks that flashing crosswalk lights at Santa Monica and Palm are going to improve traffic safety in the area, you are all sorely mistaken. The problem in that area is that pedestrians have a scary habit of jumping into traffic expecting drivers to slam on their brakes. Flashing lights won’t change that attitude much at all (especially during the day when they are less visible). We all agree that pedestrians need to be able to cross safely but the current ideas won’t solve the problem. What they need to do is install full traffic signals at the Palm… Read more »

Larry Block
Larry Block
7 years ago

Jeffrey Prang makes excellent points and its great that WeHoVille has become the forum to give equal voices to both sides of an issue. WeHoVille is sort of our NPR.. and its great that our city has a vehicle to support engagement as well as present new ideas. With that said.. the kicking the can analogy is not so far off when it comes to other issues such as campaign reform or plummer park. Its clear that LA Pride has only a few changes in store for this year.. our Book Fair is dead and the future of the Sunset… Read more »

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