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‘Take Back The Boulevard’ Tonight

The homegrown initiative to turn Colorado into Eagle Rock’s Main Street invites you to its second ‘nuts-and-bolts’ public meeting Thursday.

In his debut blog for Patch earlier this month, Eagle Rock resident Severin Martinez inspired a frequently acrimonious debate. Presenting the first in a series of government data about Colorado Boulevard’s painful history of auto crashes, Martinez argued that Colorado could be made a much better place by introducing bike lanes, which would not only slow down traffic but improve the environment and community life.

“These issues can be minimized through engineering,” wrote Martinez, a partly Scandinavian bicycle buff familiar with plans currently underway in his native Sweden to build a four-lane superhighway for bikes between a small, southern university town and the country’s third-largest city. “Take Back The Boulevard seeks to, among other things, re-engineer the street so that it is safer.”

Take Back the Boulevard (TBTB) is, of course, the local initiative to reclaim Colorado by rescuing it from the dominance of the automobile. The office of is a partner in the plan, and TBTB's second public meeting is scheduled today, Thursday, January 19, from 7-9 p.m. at the .

The first public meeting, attended by about 100 people and held at the , followed TBTB’s Sept. 14, 2011 kickoff at the , in which Colorado Boulevard business owners and landlords discussed the initiative’s broad aspects with members of the steering committee and other stakeholders in Eagle Rock.

Nuts-and-Bolts Issues

If the previous public meeting was about discussing TBTB’s broad vision for making Colorado Boulevard a community focal point—Eagle Rock’s true center—Thursday’s meeting will largely revolve around nuts-and-bolts issues about what needs to be done to begin implementing the initiative’s goals.

“This one’s going to be heavily interactive,” explained Mott Smith, a public planning and development consultant who is one of the eight members of the TBTB steering committee. “We’re going to ask people to get into the weeds to try to figure out how things are going to fit.”

While big ideas will still be welcome at Thursday’s forum, the audience will be broken up into groups to discuss specific recommendations aimed at turning parts of Colorado into more of a community hub stretching from Avenue 64 to the 2 freeway.

For example, safety issues along the boulevard was one of the key points raised during the last public meeting. During Thursday’s meeting, attendees can expect to be asked “where specifically do you think it’s unsafe” and precisely where on the boulevard “bulbouts” or extra medians need to be installed to enhance safety, as TBTB steering committee member and urban planning consultant Jeff Jacobberger put it.

TBTB's Objectives

Smith and Jacobberger met with Patch last week in an effort to further TBTB’s dialogue with community members and to clear the air about certain misconceptions that might still persist in people’s minds.

Among the public reactions to Take Back the Boulevard, perhaps the most typical is the idea that the initiative wants to transform Colorado into the kind of place it’s arguably not cut out to be—modeled on Old Town Pasadena, for example.

And yet Old Town Pasadena, which thrives along the very same boulevard, is “a great example of a place whose fundamental character has changed” over the years as it went from a "hole" once known for little more than “porn and pawn” to a regional destination, said Smith.

Eagle Rock's Main Street

The task of improving the Eagle Rock stretch of Colorado Boulevard is made easier by the fact that “Colorado is already the neighborhood mainstream,” said Smith. “It’s not a place people avoid—it’s a place people go.”

And that’s why TBTB is not aimed at radically transforming Colorado Boulevard—nobody expects it to become a three-lane superhighway for bicycles—but about “shaping up and making it what it already is,” Smith added.

On the whole, in Smith’s view, Colorado’s story as a boulevard is no different from that of any other commercial street. “It’s really about land use and trends in development,” he said. “What we’re seeing is an echo back to ‘Main Street’—and people want their main street to be alive.”

Find out how to make that happen at 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, by attending Take Back the Boulevard’s second public meeting at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock.

John Goldfarb January 19, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I'm in favor of bike lanes and slowing traffic by "unsynchronizing" the traffic signals, but realistically there also needs to be more public parking if we want to attract more pedestrians to our local businesses. For just a few examples, look at the large parking lot north of and parallel to Honolulu Ave. in Montrose, several huge parking structures adjacent to Colorado Blvd. in Old Town Pasadena (yeah, I know they'll never build a parking structure in Eagle Rock), and the large amount of public parking around Brand Blvd. in Glendale. Do you like 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica? Ever count the number of adjacent parking structures?
jayres January 19, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Mott Smith and Jeff Jacobberger work at CEA, Civic Enterprise Associates, a private firm that does most of its business with public sector entities. According to his company profile, Mott worked for the LAUSD and helped launch the school construction program. Based on the ridiculous cost overruns in these school projects, is that something you even want to tout? And Jeff Jacobberger lives in Carthay Circle and is a member of the Mid-City Neighborhood Council. Their business is skimming off the top of community revitalization projects. So who is paying for them to be on the steering committee and their firm to be planning consultants. And if we are Taking Back the Blvd, why are we handing it over to these outsiders? And if the city of Los Angeles approves some sort of TBTB initiative, will their firm CEA continue to steer the project, or will other urban planning firms have an opportunity to bid the project? To me it looks like these guys have whipped up some members of the community to push for a redevelopment project, and in turn will be paid a nice sum to move that project to fruition. These guys know how much white people love gentrification and that is what they are selling, presumably to enrich our lives, but really to enrich their own. That's why Civic Enterprise Associate's advisory board is made up of public and private sector developers. Hopefully, the death of CRA's will severely limit the scope of this initiative.
Ajay Singh (Editor) January 19, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Jayres: TBTB steering committee member and consultant Mott Smith lives in Mt. Washington, fyi—if that's any consolation.
Bob Arranaga January 21, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Jayres: This committee was formed from several groups that are well established in Eagle Rock for many years. A search went out to interview firms familiar with planning within the City of Los Angeles to help the committee formulate strategies and alert us of the road blocks ahead. We had limited funding that was seeded by TERA and CD14. Civic Enterprises won the bid. Mott Smith in particular has a past history with Eagle Rock, including assisting the ERCPR through a CalTrans Grant for similar concerns. He volunteered his services to the community at that time due to dwindling funding. Mott also is part of the community and I have seen him around town with his family at local restaurants. Civic Enterprises engagement with this committee has been professional, informative and on target. They have also restructured the contract to allow more involvement with the same fee amount. Nothing is being handed to outsiders as the commentary is coming from Eagle Rock residents through the outreach this committee has established. Once in, those comments will be gathered and presented to the City formally. We are doing the work the City cannot afford to do and we are finding our own funding. We are basically volunteering our time with limited monies. Combined, we all hope to see action from these meetings.
Bob Arranaga January 21, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Continued... If Civic Enterprises were flown in from Chicago or New York, I could understand your complaint. We tapped into the local talent and are supporting a local business. Dig deeper into Mott's LAUSD background and you will discover that he was there fixing some of the problems (Belmont) that others had created before him. Bob Arrañaga, Board Member TBTB

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