For Residents’ Sake, City Council Moves Traffic Discussion to July 10

The San Marino City Council will expedite its discussion of proposed traffic plans that would be funded by L.A. Metro by including the item in its meeting on Wednesday night, July 10, which would be likely to produce a larger audience than its morning meeting on July 26, when the topic was to have been addressed.
Barring deviation from the city staff recommendation, the council is expected to direct the Parks and Public Works Department to refine the existing proposals to factor in community input. After that, the August meeting of the Public Safety Commission is slated to include a presentation of those refinements and the council is tentatively expected to take up the items for final approval in September.
The decision last week marks the first time the city has given itself a mostly definitive time to rule on these projects, which have earned the ire of a group of residents who have spent most of the meetings concerning the proposed plans this year calling for their rejection.
The city had initially planned to host the discussion as more of a workshop on July 26, a Friday, but City Manager Marcella Marlowe said officials have heard a number of concerns about residents’ inability to attend a weekday morning meeting. Wednesday meetings begin at 6 p.m. and are generally better attended.
This new schedule also involves a reshuffling for the Public Safety Commission. That panel voted last week to rely on the City Council to direct the refinements of the proposals and planned to showcase them at its own July meeting.
This development signals a potential goal line for a process that has largely gone without a fixed endpoint. The proposals, which the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority is offering to pay for, are designed to address traffic congestion at various points throughout the city in an attempt to streamline travel on main roads while both controlling speeds and incentivizing motorists to stay on those main roads.
When it shuttered the planned tunnel that would have linked the 710 and 10 freeways to the 210, Metro’s board decided to distribute $780 million in Measure R sales tax revenue to cities that would have been most affected by the tunnel, to use for their own projects to alleviate congestion and improve traffic capacity.
San Marino asked Metro for earmarks for eight projects and ultimately was apportioned $32 million for five of them. Although the proposals are officially based on alternative projects that Metro designed when producing its environmental impact report for the tunnel, Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne says he is intent on modifying them in keeping with residents’ desires to preserve the city’s character.
As Throne and city staffers have hosted meetings throughout the year, a group of residents has largely used those opportunities to reject the projects outright, usually voicing suspicion about Metro’s motives. At varying times, disputing claims by engineers and planners, the group also has asserted that the projects will simultaneously bring traffic on Huntington Drive to freeway speeds and also result in substantially higher volumes of vehicles.

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