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City, county leaders’ moves on transportation, incarceration mark paradigm shift for region

Bicyclists riding near Downtown Los Angeles as part of CicLAvia
Bicyclists riding near Downtown Los Angeles as part of CicLAvia
Photo by Joshua Livingston via Flickr Creative Commons

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Yesterday Los Angeles County Supervisors and LA City Councilmembers made big bets on a dramatically different future for transportation and incarceration.

The city council is betting that making it harder for you to drive 20 years from now will push you into bike riding or taking the bus. The Supervisors are betting community mental health services will keep people out of jail.

Both are gambles. Both mark big philosophical shifts regional thinking.

They were votes in complete contradiction to traditional responses to population growth. They were votes for theories -- that might work and be revolutionary.

But it's also possible the theories don't hold up amidst the size and complexity of Los Angeles. It's possible Angelenos’ quality of life suffers with worse traffic and that jails overcrowd and repeat offenders get out early due to a lack of jail space.

The Council voted to approve the Mobility 2035 Plan. It calls for sweeping changes to the way public streets are used for transportation in Los Angeles, eliminating car lanes on a number of the city's busiest streets. In their place, will be lanes for bikes or express buses.

The bet is that enough people will give up on driving to reduce traffic. If it works, a bright future. If it bombs, the Board of Supervisors could be debating spending money to correct it.

Mobility Plan 2035: An Element of the General Plan (May 28, 2015 Draft - as approved by City Planning Commission)


Meghan McCarty, KPCC commuting and mobility reporter

Tamika Butler, executive director of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition

Jay Beeber, executive director of Safer Streets L.A., and a research fellow with the Reason Foundation

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC and adjunct faculty at USC Annenberg School

Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA