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‘Take Back the Boulevard’ Moves Forward to Improve Colorado

The initiative hopes for new bike lanes, better crosswalks and a safer pedestrian experience.

About 60 people gathered at the , Tuesday for the third “Take Back the Boulevard” meeting aimed at making the Eagle Rock stretch of Colorado Boulevard more of a main street and less of a highway.

In partnership with the office of TBTB has been working diligently since September 2011 to revitalize Colorado Boulevard, making it a more user-friendly area for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike.

In the past two meetings, TBTB has listened to residents and drawn out a plan based on their requests. Issues discussed ranged from adding more parallel parking and bike lanes to widening the curbs and introducing a crosswalk near Trader Joe’s.

President and TBTB Chair Bob Gotham kicked off the meeting by thanking all the individuals who have been dedicated to the project, especially the residents who came out in support and to voice their ideas and opinions.

“I want to thank the Eagle Rock residents who moved away their dinner tables and are here tonight to advocate for our community,” Gotham said. “I would like to applaud the people who are on this team and applaud each other.”

Huizar spoke next about what the initiative means to the community. “We’ve got to make our streets more pedestrian friendly—it builds communities, it’s healthier if people are walking, it supports our local business,” he said. “This effort is one that I whole-heartedly support, and I am anxious to see some of the results.”

TBTB Steering Committee Member Jeff Jacobberger presented a Power Point presentation outlining the goals of the community and the progress so far. The goals include:

  • Provide safety on the boulevard for all ages and various modes of transportation (pedestrians, bikes, buses, automobiles, etc.)
  • Stimulate economic growth through greater pedestrian activity and reduced automobile speeds.
  • Increase community health through reducing automobile emission levels and encourage alternative forms of transportation.
  • Utilize sustainable approaches to storm water management and landscaping.
  • Strengthen and nurture the relationships between businesses and residents along Colorado Boulevard.
  • Recognize the importance of existing historic resources along the boulevard as valuable contributors to the community’s character.

“Our goal is an action plan that will get results,” Jacobberger told the audience. “We are in a funding-limited environment so we really want to focus on what things cost and what funding sources are available.” For example, Jacobberger pointed out that that using paint for certain projects such as crosswalks is less expensive than moving curbs.

Here are some of the main topics discussed during the meeting:

• Reduce from three to two the number of traffic lanes along the stretch of Colorado from Townsend to Eagle Rock Plaza.

• Introduce bumpered bike lanes and more parallel parking. Bike lanes can’t be implemented, however, until an Environmental Impact Report is complete, the audience was told. Some seemed divided over the idea because bike lanes may not necessarily increase cyclists on Colorado; others in the audience agreed that the measure would increase cyclists, especially among youth.

• Adding more street lights, benches, trees and better signage in certain areas, based on examples of improvements that have worked in other cities, including San Francisco and Old Town Pasadena.

The TBTB steering committee is working with the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce on parking issues, and a meeting with the Chamber is scheduled on June 26.

Jacobberger noted that some residents are worried about how traffic will affect the community if some of the proposed TBTB changes, such as reduced traffic lanes, are implemented.

Other issues of concern revolved around the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians; initiatives by store owners to keep sidewalks clean; and whether Eagle Rock can expect increased police presence if it becomes more of a walking community.

While TBTB has taken all community ideas into consideration, implementation depends on cost and feasibility, Jacobberger said, adding that the steering committee is still negotiating with possible funding sources for some of the proposed improvements.

A final proposal to the community will be presented during a public meeting within a few months. Meanwhile, visit the Take Back the Boulevard website for updates.

Carl Matthes June 07, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Colorado Blvd. has revitalized itself! The new restaurants are there, because of Colorado as it now is. Why change that? All restaurants would like more parking, not more bikes. TBTB has NOT come from Colorado business owners. Imagine four years of disrupted traffic, a la Eagle Rock Blvd. a few years back. Originally, Colorado Blvd. was built as a wide Blvd. The original developers put a tunnel under Colorado (at Dahlia School) so not to block traffic flow. This present effort will stifle growth and will put back in place last century's TERA control on businesses along Colorado Blvd. One can only hope that this plan never passes the EPA.
Bob G June 07, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Carl: Thank you for sharing your view. While it is true that TERA has committed money to support the initiative, the leadership for TBTB is composed of a collaboration of six community organizations including the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce and the CD14 Council Office. Through a series of organizational and public meeting residents, business owners, and property owners have all participated in the discussion. The results of those discussions were presented as a preliminary proposal at the meeting on June 5. Our goal is to make Colorado Boulevard work better as a main street for all Eagle Rockers. As the effort moves forward, you will begin to see subtle changes that will make a big difference – more cross walks, wider sidewalks, more bike paths, better lighting and, hopefully, functional parking for the businesses on the street. Sometimes little things like these can make a big difference in how safe, pleasant and vibrant a community is. We are as excited as you are about the new businesses on Colorado, and we look forward to an even brighter future for our community’s main street.
Timothy June 08, 2012 at 12:27 AM
How about better businesses? Driving schools and auto body repair shops do not inspire walkability. Restaurants, cafes, bars, shops. Take a look at York and Ave. 50.
Bob G June 08, 2012 at 01:03 AM
The focus of this initiative is on the public space (sidewalk to sidewalk). Business are by definition outside our focus since they are located on private property. Improved streetscapes do tend to attract the type of business you mention as desirable. Restaurants, bars, cafes and shops are definitely drawn to areas with a greater pedestrian presence.
Carl Matthes June 08, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Robert: You left out "bump outs." Are they part of the "subtle changes"? What about reducing Colorado to just two lanes? Is that also gone? Who could be against better lighting, better cross walks, etc? What about more signals to slow traffic. That would be good. I attended the TBTB ER Chamber meeting and there was no support for TBTB from Colorado business owners. If it were just what you outlined in your answer, I would not be against it. Who could be? But, I suspicion your answer is incomplete. Also, what does "hopefully, functional parking" mean? Parking is needed. Businesses can't grow if there is no parking. Colorado is the most important artery in Northeast Los Angeles. Businesses are growing and want to be there. Locally, the closest situation to Colorado might well be Foothill Blvd. If you drive Foothill, thru La Crescenta and La Canada, you will see a similar street to Colorado. A wide blvd. with businesses and bike lanes. No bump outs and no reduction to just two lanes. So, why start meddling with the new business growth on Colorado? As for the City of Los Angeles. My understanding is that a TERA co-founder was hired by the Colorado One developer and we now have a building completely out-of-step with the neighborhood. Is a “mini-me” Colorado One going forward? The City also approved the cement pillars disaster at Linda Rosa/Colorado. What about the Colorado Specific Plan? Does TBTB bring it back? Who do you trust to help Colorado's bright future?
Carl Matthes June 08, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Severin: Thank you for your response. I think, however, you misread by reply. Perhaps you should travel to Foothill Blvd. Just go north on the 2 freeway, get off where it says Foothill and then go left and you will be on Foothill and travel thru La Canada and La Crescenta. It is three lanes in each direction just like Colorado. That is the long section I am talking about. Take Back the Boulevard wants to reduce Colorado to two lanes. As to the tunnel. TBTB is named incorrectly, no one ever took it. It is in it's original form. Colorado was conceived as a wide blvd. and the tunnel was a perfect way to cross the street safely at the beginning and it is still perfect today. That's my point for bringing up the tunnel. And, as you may know, safety is one of the reasons TBTB is saying we must have bump-outs and reduce the lanes. There are other ways. Maybe you should take a moment and use the tunnel and see that it is safe, clean and a quick way to traverse Colorado to get to and from Trader Joe's. However, to easily stop the flow of traffic, a few more signals, timed at longer intervals, would handle speeding traffic and give plenty of time for pedestrians to cross.
Michael Turmon June 08, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Hi Carl, I spend a lot of time on Foothill in La Canada, and I disagree with you. First, the bulk of the portion of Foothill Blvd. that is in La Canada is two lanes each way -- from where it crosses the 210 Fwy. to the movie theater where the 2-210 interchange is. There are turn lanes, as on Colorado, but there are two traffic lanes. Second, the city of La Canada has a specific plan (see: http://www.lacanadaflintridge.com/city/documents/documents.htm#downtown) for its "Downtown Village". As the name suggests, one of the major goals of their specific plan is to promote pedestrian traffic. See chapter 3, where the #2 of 6 top-level goals is, literally, "A Pedestrian-Friendly Area". The first goal is, "A Village Atmosphere". Reading the rest of the document, you can see that they are trying hard to calm down traffic and make Foothill less of a speedway. Third, they are really spending money to make this vision a reality. Just as Pasadena has done (with Colorado) and parts of Glendale too (with Colorado), they have put bump-outs in to Foothill to narrow its width. The best example of this is the new development around the Sports Chalet, which also has brick crosswalks and other features that emphasize the role of pedestrians. It's the opposite of a tunnel under the road. I'm not saying ER should emulate LCF -- I live in ER for a reason -- but we have to admit that the era of huge roads through neighborhoods is ending. Good riddance.
Carl Matthes June 09, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Thanks, Michael, for your reply. I am talking about Foothill a little further north, above the UA Theaters, where the 2 freeway ends/exit and runs into Foothill and then, west, through La Canada and La Crescenta. I think La Canada is planning properly. However, Eagle Rock is not being planned by the City of Los Angeles. Rather, a group of ER individuals have decided to change Colorado and they are trying to get the community to go along with them. I have to tell you that I have great reservations regarding their abilities. Their past history is checkered. Their slogan was, “Where land use planning is a contact sport.” Which actually turned out to mean, "their way or the highway." Neighbor was pitted against neighbor. It got to the point where they didn't even want Starbucks signage to be allowed on the Walgreen development on Colorado. The City of Los Angeles has not taken a leadership role and has not given any indication that money is forthcoming. Each neighborhood has it's character and that character needs to fit the neighborhood. Change is not always easy. For those of us who have lived here for many years (45 for me), we are all in awe of the new businesses, who came here because of the growing market. I want them to succeed in the 21st century. Perhaps, I was too turned-off by the militancy of the name, "Take Back the Boulevard," which brought back memories of infighting and not cooperation. I think an organic change to Colorado is a shared vision.
Jennifer Morgan June 12, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Whatever someone's opinion, I have a lot of respect for people taking the time to attend meetings like this one. That said, I am a business and homeowner with a lot invested in this community. My husband John and I own the Colorado Wine Company and over the last 8 years have watched and heard the accidents, from minor to horrific (involving cars plowing into Pete's, Swork, Cindys) and of course the fatalities that resulted from high speed racing a couple of years ago near 7-11. Making the boulevard narrower and slower and more pedestrian and bicycle friendly benefits just about everyone. We won't have to run the last 20 feet to cross the boulevard with our small kids when we walk them to school. Businesses will be rediscovered by people who'll notice that small shop they've always sped past. Accidents will be fewer. The people who won't benefit are only those who use Colorado Boulevard as a substitute for the 134. There is not a person who's picked up a Take Back the Boulevard flyer at our place and not rolled their eyes and said 'why hasn't this already happened? Who wouldn't want this?' We fully support this effort and would do so even if we were 'just' parents of 2 small children and homeowners in this neighborhood that we love.
Robert De Pietro June 13, 2012 at 05:34 AM
I am the Eagle Rock Chamber Representative to the Take Back the Boulevard Committee. The Chamber generally supports the goals of the plan that has evolved from the community and business meetings. However, we are concerned about the "parking isuue" which we hear about from some of the business owners and residents (I am also on the Land Use Committe of the Neighborhood Council). For that reason the Chamber will be sponsoring a meeting that will focus on parking. We hope to have a good representation of business and property owners at the meeting and to come up with a list of specific issues and possible solutions as suggested by the participants. The meeting was originally scheduled for June 26, at 6:30PM at the Eagle Rock City Hall; however, a new date will be announced soon. I can be contacted at my office 323/2574253. Robert De Pietro
Carl Matthes June 13, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Hi Jennifer...I so appreciate hearing from an actual business owner on Colorado...you and your husband have helped with the wonderful turn-around in Eagle Rock. As a resident a couple blocks north of Colorado, many of us are concerned with Hill Drive turning into more of a speed-way than it is now. What will happen with the Colorado traffic once it is reduced by two lanes? Colorado is an important artery, 134 freeway or not. Of an immediate concern, must be pedestrians crossing Colorado. Surely, the city could lengthen the changing of the signals on Colorado to allow pedestrians to cross safely. And that could be done easily? Have you talked with the City? You don't mention parking. I would imagine that is a problem? Congrats on your success.
Carl Matthes June 13, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Dear Robert...This is very encouraging to learn of your personal participation in TBTB. I look forward to learning more.
EagleRockMom August 16, 2012 at 01:26 AM
@Carl I am also concerned about Hill Drive becoming the alternate race way. Any time traffic is affected on Colorado Boulevard, motorists take to Hill Drive. If permanent changes are made to the amount of driving lanes on the boulevard I think it will directly impact this crown jewel of Eagle Rock.
Tim Tritch September 22, 2012 at 07:05 PM
There is just something about the name "Take Back the Bl." I know this is just symantics, but who are "WE" taking it back from? And all this talk abuout bicycles, honestly, how many of us are going to ride our bikes to the resturaunt, the grocery store, or dare i say, the hardware store. Cycling is a recreation for most. Regarding the safety of bike lanes, is there any statistics about how many cyclists have been in accidents along Colorado and ER Bl. Is it really a safety issue? Biking is great, dont get me wrong, but trying to promote biking as a regular alternative is kind of like trying to promote soccer as a mafor sport. Sure soccer is great, and the most popular sport in the rest of the world, and very popular here, but it will never compete with football or baseball. Football and baseball are the cars,, soccer is the bicycle. I dont think we will ever seee Monday Night Soccer, nor do I think we will ever see resturaunt parking lots filled with bikes. But if you are going to ride your bike, please obey the traffic laws, and remember, its not the bike that goes t the hospital, its the rider.
rebecca niederlander September 26, 2012 at 04:27 PM
http://eaglerock.patch.com/articles/car-overturns-on-colorado-boulevard#photo-11492454

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