It had to be at least five years ago when I was invited by the BID which held sway over the commercial residents of the block of Robertson Boulevard between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard to observe a presentation by city staff. What the city had in mind was to re-arrange the parking to one-side angled, eliminate parking on the other side, plant more trees and shrubbery, install benches and otherwise pretty up the entire block. It was to be a pilot project meant to encourage better pedestrian access and to offer a more pleasant aspect for visitors. Knowing how such proposals, if enacted, actually become reality, I asked if I’d still be alive when it came to fruition. It never did.
Now the city has a new plan for that once-busy piece of commercial real estate: It wants to close Robertson between Tovar Place and Santa Monica Boulevard between 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Monday, every weekend. The plan would use the sidewalk and street for a myriad of other activities such as a farmers market or yoga.
On Wednesday, the West Hollywood West Residents Association, hosted by Manny Rodriguez, held a ZOOM conference for residents to hear and view the city’s proposal as presented by city staff. This proposal, as have many others, was advanced through process and onto the Council agenda without any discussion with either commercial interests or residents. When the Council voted unanimously for it, that action was similar to voting for a “blank piece of paper,” as characterized by Mr. Rodriguez, since only the staff report was offered as a rationale.
Let me get right into this. The proposal is highly favored by the Young Turks on the Council and by staffers who consider the city planning process more as playing on a giant board game with movable objects representing buildings and other city features. But, where are the little stick figures meant to represent residents? While one might applaud the idea of a more pedestrian friendly city, as several residents did during the meeting, such proposals as this are only pop-ups without a broader view such as inclusion in the General Plan in order to establish such ventures. How residential neighborhoods and the commercial community might be impacted seems to have been overlooked.
In this case, high-volume Saturday night traffic would be dispersed into the surrounding residential neighborhoods – already under siege by visitors who blithely ignore parking restrictions. It would impact residents who might have invited family or friends to their homes on a Sunday only to find no place for them to park. Our constant problems, endless traffic and lack of parking spaces are only exacerbated by the Robertson Closure Proposal. It’s a “rush-through” idea without the proper consideration of its consequences.
Readers can view the ZOOM meeting with presentations by writing West Hollywood West Residents Association at firstname.lastname@example.org