Zwartz Talk

Hyperion Bridge Bike Lane Vote — June 9, 2015

Unanimous Vote

City Council Votes “12-0 Forthwith”

For The La Bonge Option

– by Scott Zwartz

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

.     On Tuesday morning June 9, 2015, The Los Angeles City Council voted “12-0 Forthwith” per Council Rules for The La Bonge Option for the Hyperion Bridge (CM 05-0173). The La Bonge Option has two Bike Lanes (unprotected from vehicle traffic) and the present four (4) auto lanes. 6-3-15 BofE Hyperion Rpt  Because Councilmember-elect Ryu favors it, we call the other option The Ryu Option with two protected (“buffered”) Bike Lanes but with only 3 auto lanes. Ryu 6-3-15 L

.     As the Bureau of Engineering had stated, The Ryu Option for two protected Bike Lanes and removal of one auto lane was not considered in the IS/MND.  Thus, if the Council had adopted The Rye Option, the City would have to recirculate the IS/MND for public comment and that most likely would result in the City’s doing a CEQA Environmental Impact Report [EIR].

Has The City Dodged the CEQA Bullet?

.    CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] is designed to protect the environment and that includes the protecting the health of our children.  Both The La Bonge Option and The Ryu Option have serious flaws which may yet fall prey to CEQA.

.     The La Bonge Option:  Because this option’s Bike Lanes have no protection from vehicles and it is the most toxic to the health of children, it fails CEQA.  Will the IS/MND protect the City Council’s decision from a legal challenge?

.     The La Bonge Option’s Lack of Protection from Vehicles:

.     Due to the manner in which The City treats the Administrative Record [AR], there may be insufficient data to support the IS/MND.  When the courts look at an alleged CEQA violation, they look to see whether the City’s AR has substantial factual documentation.  We will leave that initial determination to the attorneys who will file the petitions with the superior court.  Generally speaking, however, under Garcetti, the AR is a fact free zone.  Thus, the likelihood that the City can produce adequate facts to show that there is substantial evidence that Bike Lanes are needed is small.  The Bureau of Engineering 6-3-2015 Report did, however, mention that bike riders were only 45/100 of 1% of the bridge’s usage. That means that less than 1/2 of 1% of those who use the bridge are riding bicycles. As a result, the City may not be able to justify two (2) bike lanes.

.    Since the City invoked the terms “protected” Bike Lanes vs “unprotected” Bike Lanes, it may lack a factual basis to have selected the unprotected over the protected.  The burden rests upon the City to have included actual studies in the AR rather than mere conclusions and/or PC rhetoric.

.    The La Bonge Option’s Health Hazard to Cyclists

.    A lot of material was submitted to City Council # 05-0173 about the health hazards of Bike Lanes on major boulevards.  The worldwide consensus is that wherever possible, Bike Lanes should be located away from major roads due to the pollution health risks.

.     The AR will have substantial evidence that Bike Lanes pose an unreasonable health hazard to cyclists and they should not be located on the bridge.  Because the Garcetti Administration has the pattern of omitting facts and scientific studies from the official record, the chances are reasonably good that the measure cannot withstand a legal challenge.

.     The Ryu Option:  This option may pass muster as to the Bike Lanes’s being reasonably safer from vehicle collision, but it has the same significant health hazards.

.     Thus, everyone who wants a second bite at the apple may form an alliance to legally challenge the adoption of The La Bonge Option.  Assuming they succeed, the future battle will be between Bike Lanes on the bridge versus Bike Lanes on the piers of the old Red Car Line.  Proponents of better auto travel will also favor Bike Lanes’ having their own separate bridge. Pedestrians will be lost in the shuffle unless they file a similar petition so that the laments of pedestrians, bike riders and auto enthusiasts are all heard by the same judge.

The Impact of the 12-0 Forthwith Vote

.    For years, the city has used an unlawful voting agreement which violates both the Brown Act and Penal Code 86.  The only way to have UNANIMOUS votes over 99% of the time is to have a voting agreement.  It does not matter whether it is written down, whether it is oral, or whether it is an agreement by custom and practice.  It is  illegal.  Thus, the passage The La Bonge Option is subject to legal attack, like 99.3% of the other items before the City Council.

Will Anyone do Anything?

.    Who knows?  Talk is cheap; litigation is expensive.

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