Angry Residents Confront Metro Officials at Noise Meeting

Subway Construction Update

Angry Residents Confront Metro Officials at Noise Mitigation Meeting

Grinder

On May 27, Metro held a meeting of the Purple Line Extension advisory group at the Petersen Museum. On the agenda was Metro’s mitigation plan for construction noise and vibration in the Miracle Mile. Metro’s PowerPoint presentation on the topic can be seen here.

The proposed mitigations offered to the community did not pass the “common sense” test with numerous residents in attendance. Nighttime work currently underway for utility relocations at Wilshire/La Brea and Wilshire/Fairfax sparked complaints from residents of the La Brea-Hancock area and from those living on Orange Street near Fairfax.

A mother of young children displayed a smartphone video she made of Metro contractors grinding welds on temporary steel plates covering a trench near La Brea and Wilshire; the late night work woke her children blocks away.

A professional recording engineer living on Orange Street argued that Metro was trying to snow residents by claiming that nighttime subway construction would not exceed nighttime ambient noise levels by more than 5 decibels. He pointed out that while that might seem to be only a slight increase in volume to the uninformed, in fact, a 5 decibel increase would nearly double the perceived nighttime ambient noise levels.

A Windsor Square resident complained that a long promised sound wall surrounding the subway construction yard at Crenshaw and Wilshire had yet to be completed – despite the fact that the utility relocation crews headquartered there began using the site many months ago.

Others inquired why nighttime utility relocation work recently detoured eastbound Wilshire traffic to 8th Street for two nights in a row; a situation that had idling and honking vehicles stacked up at the intersections of Genesee and Ogden late into the night – without traffic control officers present. Even Metro’s 720 bus was diverted to 8th, adding to the traffic noise that disturbed a number of nearby residents.

A Metro official admitted that they were having difficulty implementing practices designed to require the various utility relocation contractors to reduce nighttime noise; that it is a challenge for Metro to ensure that every construction vehicle has a low volume back-up alarm; and that, on occasion, a construction worker pulls up to the work site in the middle of the night with their car stereo blaring. This official was also unable to explain why workers were grinding welds at such a late hour, despite Metro’s often-repeated assurances that noisier work would be confined to the earlier hours of the evening.

The experiences of residents enduring the disturbances of nighttime utility relocations serves to reinforce the MMRA’s opposition to permit 24/7 activities at the Miracle Mile subway station construction sites. In their PowerPoint presentation Metro admitted that the greatest amount of noise would be generated at their Wilshire/La Brea yard, which will house a slurry recovery facility and a grout manufacturing plant – as well as serve as the location where all the dirt will be extracted from all of the tunneling from Western to La Cienega.

Once again, it was reiterated at the meeting that the contractor of the subway extension is solely responsible for mitigating noise and vibration. That the mitigations Metro touted at the meeting were only examples of mitigations that might be provided. This is why the Miracle Mile Residential Association maintains that until such time that Metro actually engages a contractor it is pointless to discuss specific noise mitigations for the subway construction sites at Fairfax and La Brea. Time and time again, the MMRA has informed Metro that it will not sign a blank check on work hours exemptions that will be cashed at the expense of the residents of the Miracle Mile.

The only way to guarantee that the neighborhood has a voice in how subway construction is conducted in the Miracle Mile is to sign the online petition opposing nighttime, Sunday, and holiday construction. This petition campaign, which has been underway since last February, has already compelled Metro to ask the Los Angeles Police Commission for a “time out” in considering their application for an exemption from work hours rules at the Miracle Mile subway construction sites.

Subway Petition Lawn Sign

The MMRA’s “no blank check” stance appears to have gained traction with the Police Commission. Recently, the commission began requiring all contractors seeking work hours exemptions in the Miracle Mile to consult with the MMRA before they will consider applications for variances. This is a requirement that the commission didn’t enact before they granted permission to allow nighttime utility relocation work. Obviously, our petition campaign has provoked this policy change and the MMRA is pleased that the commission is being so responsive and respectful towards our community.

The MMRA’s petition campaign has gotten a lot of attention – and some criticism from those who mistakenly believe that we oppose the subway extension. Our objective is to balance the fundamental right of thousands of residents to enjoy the peace and quiet of their own homes with the enormous demands of a massive, decade long, multiple billion-dollar construction project. Neither side is going to get everything they want, but the MMRA will not allow the needs of the residents to be ignored no matter how important or worthy the cause.

SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION

Click here to download the printable petition

We also invite you to visit the Subway Construction page on the MMRA website. It is frequently updated with links to media coverage on our petition campaign, official correspondence, construction fact sheets and reports, YouTube videos of subway construction techniques, and other information.

Miracle Mile Spotlight: Urban Florist

Miracle Mile Spotlight: Urban Florist

 Bryan

Bryan Brayton [photo above] is very much a Connecticut Yankee in the Miracle Mile. He’s an even-tempered, friendly, and contented man. He opened his florist shop on the south side of 8th Street, just a short distance from La Brea Avenue, in 1986. Urban Florist is one of the oldest small businesses in the Miracle Mile, despite a less than promising start:

“I remember the first day I opened, my family came and we pulled up to the shop and the whole front was spray painted with graffiti,” Bryan laughs at the memory. “We were from a little country town in Connecticut and my father said, ‘What kind of neighborhood is this?’”

But the Miracle Mile suited Bryan. He discovered the area when he came west on vacation and decided to stay. Flowers have always been his passion. Back east he had studied floriculture, design, and the business aspects of the trade. So, he found work at a florist shop on Doheny. After three years there, he decided he could run a shop on his own and, with a loan from his father, Urban Florist opened for business.

At the beginning he was a one man enterprise: “I would answer the phone, make the arrangement, turn on the answering machine, get in the car, go deliver it, come back, get the messages, call the customers back…” He shakes his head and chuckles.

Now he has two employees: a designer and delivery driver. Although, he temporarily increases his staff to meet the demand on Mother’s Day and Valentine Day.

One of the things Bryan enjoys most about his profession is going downtown to the flower mart three mornings a week. He typically arrives there at 5 AM, although the wholesale market opens at 2 AM. “It’s a whole other world,” he says. “It’s lucky I was born a morning person.”

The florist business has changed since he first opened his establishment. “Thirty years ago people went to florist shops to buy flowers. Now they go to Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s. There used to be all these ‘bucket shops’ with rows and rows of flowers and that’s where you went to buy your flowers. But now Costco does weddings and once that happened all the bucket shops disappeared.” Fortunately, 90% of his business comes from internet orders or over the phone.

The shop is open six days a week. “You’re almost married to the business,” he states. “I do this more than I do anything else. And I like it. I haven’t had a summer vacation in ten years or more. But I’m very lucky. I grew up with a dad who said, ‘Kids, if you’re going to do something, make sure you like it,’ because he wasn’t happy with his corporate job with General Electric. He said, ‘Be happy with what you do, because you’re going to be at work more than you’re going to be at home.’”

Local customers respond positively to the fact that the shop is not a cookie-cutter franchise design. “People walk in and say, ‘this is so quaint, what a sweet little shop.’ You can almost hear them take a sigh of relief.”

“Fortunately, for me, all these new apartments buildings going up in the Miracle Mile are going to help a lot.” He’s been contracted to provide weekly flower arrangements for the leasing office and community spaces in the new mixed-use apartment building on the southeast corner of Wilshire and La Brea. “And, of course, Park La Brea has always been good for me. We do a lot of deliveries there.”

At this point in the interview, a delivery of small potted succulents was made, which prompted Bryan to remark: “At the end of the school year the moms order thank you gifts for their kid’s teachers. It’s another great part of being a little neighborhood florist: I get to see the circle of life. I’m on the second generation now. I’ve done kid’s proms, weddings, and now they’re having babies. I love it. It makes me feel small town. How wonderful to have people walk by every day and stick their head in the door and say, ‘Good morning, Bryan.’”

But the flip side of being in business of celebration is accommodating those who are in mourning. “I can’t tell you how many folks who were my original customers and their families will call me to say that they have passed away. It can be very upsetting. I’ve known them for years and all of a sudden they’re gone. I’m very attached to this neighborhood, there are some great people here.”

Urban Florist
5310 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Hours:
Monday–Friday: 9 AM–5 PM
Saturday: 9 AM–2PM
Closed Sunday
Phone: 323-937-7100
Fax: 323-937-0774
Email: UrbanFlorist@sbcglobal.net
Website: urbanflorist.net

The MMRA newsletter does not solicit or accept advertisements. Our support of local businesses is a matter of principle ­– for which we receive no financial compensation or consideration of any kind.

LaBonge Signs Off on Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan

LaBonge Signs Off on Miracle Mile

Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan

Traffic Jam

Councilmember Tom LaBonge and Miracle Mile Residential Association President James O’Sullivan met Monday, June 16, 2014, to finalize details for the Miracle Mile Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan [NTMP].

The MMRA has been seeking to implement the plan since last October – working in close cooperation with LaBonge’s Field Deputy, Ben Seinfeld, and Jeannie Shen, Transportation Engineer with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s Hollywood-Wilshire District office.

Area-wide congestion has gridlocked Wilshire Boulevard, Olympic Boulevard, and 8th Street during rush hour periods and resulted in more cut-through traffic on north/south streets. Traffic accidents are on the rise and so are complaints from the residents. The Miracle Mile is a hotbed of new development – with more major projects on the horizon – and the advent of Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit lanes on Wilshire Boulevard, as well as a decade of subway construction, will only add to our traffic woes.

The MMRA feels strongly that the Miracle Mile needs a comprehensive traffic safety study that will analyze traffic counts, vehicle speeds, and line-of-sight problems with intersecting streets along 8th Street. This study, which will cover Wilshire to Olympic from La Brea to Fairfax, will provide a rational basis to evaluate possible mitigations – and avoid the unintended consequences of “one-off” traffic fixes.

At first it appeared that LADOT budget cuts and staffing shortages would prevent the NTMP from being executed in a timely manner. The MMRA successfully lobbied Councilmember LaBonge and LADOT to use a special fund designated for traffic mitigations in the Miracle Mile to engage an outside traffic consultant firm to perform the study. These funds were donated by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art [LACMA] to mitigate the Ogden Avenue “vacation.” Approximately 10 years ago, LACMA took over Ogden Avenue between Wilshire and 6th Street to unify their campus. LACMA agreed to create a special traffic mitigation fund because it was impossible at that time to predict the full impact of such a street closure on traffic in the Miracle Mile.

The MMRA has polled residents in the past and investigated every intersection within the study area to determine the scope of work to be performed by the traffic consultant. Our priority is safety. The NTMP will provide a professional overview of the area that will be invaluable when measuring the traffic impact of new development. It will also prevent pitting one street against another when residents propose various traffic solutions for their respective streets.

Final steps are underway to select a traffic consultant. It is estimated that the study will take six months to complete. The MMRA will share the results with the residents and continue to solicit their input on any proposed mitigations.

The MMRA is grateful to Councilmember LaBonge and his Field Deputy, Ben Seinfeld, for working so diligently to get this traffic plan launched. There are no easy fixes to traffic problems in the Miracle Mile, but a Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan will allow us all to make well informed decisions.