The red paint first appeared along Colorado
Boulevard on the night of Wednesday last week and by Thursday morning the
office of Councilmember José Huizar began getting phone calls.
The callers were Colorado business owners—and most of them were mad. Why, they asked Huizar’s staff, had parking spots on the curb in front of their stores been painted red?
Huizar’s staff relayed the concerns to the Department of Transportation, which began installing bike lanes and crosswalks along Colorado in late September as part of the Colorado Boulevard Safety Improvement Plan.
“We requested a ‘We Need to Meet Now’ meeting” with DOT, Rick Coca, Huizar’s communications director, told Patch, adding that the curb paint job near newly installed—but incomplete—crosswalks was “beyond the scope of what was discussed on safety improvements.”
Clearly, something was wrong, as anyone who attended the series of public meetings on Colorado Boulevard bike lanes earlier this year or so would testify. Much of the talk was focused on how bike lanes would take away a vehicular traffic lane on each side of the boulevard.
“Initially, most of the red painting that was discussed had to do with the bike lanes being put in,” Coca pointed out. “This additional red painting of curbs wasn’t discussed prior.”
And indeed, although the installation of crosswalks was also discussed, parking spots along the curb, audiences at the bike lanes meetings were told, would remain largely undisturbed.
What happened on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 25, was almost Orwellian by comparison. Some 70 feet of parking space directly facing Casa Bianca, Eagle Rock’s oldest and busiest restaurant, had been painted over in red, effectively rendering the Italian eatery into a "Casa Roso." Rantz Auto Center got a 60-foot coat. Pete’s Blue Chip? About 36 feet.
In all, about 10 businesses along Colorado have been affected, Paul Habib, Huizar’s chief of staff, told Eagle Rock Patch.
“I’m getting a lot of complaints from people,” said Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce President Michael Nogueira. “We don’t have as many parking spots as Highland Park—and what we have we have to hold on to.”
Rantz Auto Center manager Jesse Nuño told Patch that while he and neighboring business owners are concerned about the disappearance of parking, the ongoing installation of crosswalks is a good thing.
“Now you have a way of getting across—[drivers in] cars know that you’re there,” he said. “The only thing is there are no lights.”
Huizar, who has presided over the slow but steady transformation of Colorado from a six-lane highway to Eagle Rock’s main street, was “not happy” to hear about Wednesday night’s development, according to Coca.
“Our office was not notified that anything other than three of four [curb parking] spots would have to be painted red because of the crosswalks,” Coca said. But as DOT began installing the crosswalks, “there were some upgrades they had to do to meet current state codes,” Coca explained, adding: “That might be true, but from our point of view these should have been discussed way in advance.”
At the very least, “a discussion with the community was warranted,” Coca said. “We relayed that to DOT and they acknowledged that.”
The good news is that DOT has agreed to restore 10 parking spots, five of which are already in place, Coca said, adding: “We did hear from some businesses—they were very happy to hear that red paint from the spots was removed.” Among those who called to express their relief was Luis Rodrigues, owner of Kids Furniture Superstore, located near the Glendale freeway on 2751 Colorado Blvd.
Huizar’s office is working with DOT to determine
which additional parking spots can be restored within the scope of state laws,
Coca said. The bottom line is that any reduction in parking spots needs to be
kept to “a reasonable number to implement our plan for a full improvement of