First of all, before you fix something, you have to be able to collaboratively say what’s wrong with it to begin with.
UpLift Melrose didn’t do this. It told all of us that Melrose needed to be fixed but totally ignored the “why does this need fixing?” and simply went with it’s time for a facelift. Public outreach was limited to what I feel was mostly bicycle advocates. Many store owners on Melrose never even heard about it until after the plan was killed. Very little widespread neighborhood input was sought out or welcomed by the former president of our Neighborhood Council! When opposing viewpoints were raised, as in the case of the NextDoor poll showing a majority of neighbors who were against this plan, they were ignored, cast aside and discounted as not being done by a “credible” source. Then came the rash of name calling and “nibyism’s” hurled about. But is that the way you solve a problem? Just go and call anyone who disagrees with you a name? Sounds childish and arrogant if you ask me. When it was discovered that the poll the advocates were using, done by StreetsLA , to sell their claims of “widespread support” could be taken by your pet dog the wheels pretty much feel off that wagon. There were NO controls used to prevent anyone from voting multiple times! The project has become a bad joke that just won’t die. It now has morphed into the great “lost opportunity” as proselytized to us by all the same bad actors again. But to really turn it into folklore, that “lost opportunity” statement is always followed up with the comment “but let’s not relitigate the past”. I’ve hear that same line so many times now it’s as if the response were scripted and then handed out at some clandestine meeting somewhere. So once again, let’s just shut down a conversation after making a provocative statement. Something that in essence tries to discount our intelligence!
So what’s wrong with Melrose? From the survey of our readers that we’ve had open for 3 months, from Aug to now, 40% of the responses feel Melrose is not a safe & friendly place to shop or dine. Just watching the news about Melrose over the past summer supports the various reasons why this is the case. The fear of being murdered or robbed while dining or walking back home is at the top of that list. So from this, we had another round of finger pointing and blame….but still no solutions.
Have you heard any of the following before?
“We need more cops on the streets”… but let’s defund the police!
“Street Vendors are the cause of all our problems”...but where’s the hard evidence to prove that?
“Shoe stores create the crime”…really? Social economic problems combined with the lack of our City’s inability for code enforcement and other laws are really the crime!
So here’s what I’d like all of you to consider:
1) We need a parking garage! Without a decent method to handle the parking issues, a mass transit restricted street like Melrose will always draw a crowd of cars. If you look at Culver City, Santa Monica or other growing economic areas, a plan for parking came first and it didn’t rely on the neighborhood streets!
2) Melrose cannot simply become a “traffic constricted” street. Cut through traffic and cars going to Beverly Blvd, 3rd Street and Santa Monica Blvd simply takes that option away for Melrose. You can look at Navigatela.lacity.org information for the number of cars, motorcycles and bikes traveled on any of those streets. They are all considered major traffic corridors. So let’s stop going down this dead end road again, OK? If you think the “high injury network” argument holds water for Melrose, it doesn’t either! Look at Venice Blvd and they HAVE a bike lane. Then, look at the high injury network map, it includes just about all the major traffic corridor streets in Mid-City West and beyond. So why single Melrose out as the only street needing to be traffic constricted. To me, it just sounds like another false narrative made to confuse us.
3) We need neighborhood engagement and not just “the other guy”. I mean YOU! If you don’t like the way things are then you either need to stop being afraid to talk about it or just move. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of people who have taken the latter option. I can list countless numbers of my neighbors who say they are too afraid of being targeted for speaking out against the name calling crowd. Ever hear of the saying “sticks and stones can break my bones…” These people who like to use name calling as a weapon are not physically violent so speak up neighbors.
There’s another street project coming our way in a few years with significant funding for revitalization. There are already several different groups that are working on how this project will take shape. I’m very concerned that the same type of limited outreach will once again be used to gain “widespread” public support. I attended a meeting a few weeks ago and instead of talking about a Melrose streetscape we were all ambushed with the familiar phrase “connected streets” which is pretty much coded language for “bike lanes” again.
So is this really what’s wrong with Melrose? All it needs is a bike lane and that’ll solve the crime problems that are keeping the neighborhood from dining there? BAD IDEA! But how do we balance out all the competing desires for a vision of what Melrose can be? My idea is to spend greatly on public outreach and idea gathering. Bring alternate groups to the table and lets all engage in a discussion that brings real concerns to the table from more than just one side. Have answers to all the “deal breaker” questions and concerns. But above all don’t run with the idea that we’re going to go for the money first and figure out the rest later. There are still too many residents in Melrose Village that simply won’t buy into that.
I’ll have more next time on the rest of the results from our survey and updated news on what’s happening with this new round of State funds.