Los Cerritos neighborhood group survey says residents against proposed roundabouts

<strong> Roundabouts, such as this one along Vista Street in Belmont Heights, are curbed, landscaped circular medians installed to calm traffic and make roads safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles alike. </strong>

Roundabouts, such as this one along Vista Street in Belmont Heights, are curbed, landscaped circular medians installed to calm traffic and make roads safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles alike.

Sean Belk
Staff Writer

The Los Cerritos Neighborhood Association (LCNA) has recently conducted an online survey, asking residents whether they would approve of landscaped circular medians, known as roundabouts and traffic circles, being installed at two intersections in the Long Beach community.
The results: a majority said they aren’t in favor of it.
Out of 115 surveyed residents, whose names and addresses were crosschecked by LCNA, 64 percent said they are against having a roundabout installed at Pacific Avenue, 36th Street and Country Club Drive, according to survey results sent via email.
When asked whether they would favor a roundabout at the same intersection if residential parking could be reinstated, 57 percent replied “no,” according to the results.
In addition, 76 percent said they object to a traffic circle being installed at Bixby Road and Pacific Avenue.
The online-only survey was recently emailed out to the group’s neighborhood list, and only responses that included a resident’s name and address that could be verified were counted, said Bob Gill, LCNA vice president, by email. Out of 165 responses, only 115 could be verified, he said.
“The survey responses clearly indicate the neighborhood is against the roundabouts,” Gill said.
“A higher response rate is always desired, though these responses do reflect a neighborhood ‘opinion’ and can be quoted in conversations and presentations,” he added. “Your LCNA encourages all of you to continue to express your opinion to your councilmember and other city staff.”
The survey’s results are in contrast to the City’s own survey taken during a community meeting on Jan. 9 at the Expo Building in Bixby Knolls. That survey concluded that 68 percent of those surveyed during the meeting approved of having a roundabout at Pacific Avenue, 36th Street and Country Club Drive and 73 percent voted in favor of having a traffic circle Bixby Road and Pacific Avenue. The City’s survey, however, included responses from residents who live outside of the neighborhood. According to city officials, more than 3,400 public notices were sent out about the meeting and 122 survey forms were received.
In response to residents voicing their opposition to the project during an April 2 City Council meeting, Long Beach Traffic Engineer David Roseman said there have been 12 public meetings about the proposal over the last year and the project was given more public notice than any project in recent history.
He added that it was the residents who asked for the roundabouts in the first place since the City’s original plan was to just add bike lanes throughout the neighborhood and a new traffic signal at Pacific Avenue and Wardlow Road.
“All of those changes are changes that came to us actually during the public meetings,” Roseman said. “Originally, we were just going to install the bike lanes and traffic signal, but out of public contact in dealing with us we found that expanding the project to include these roundabouts and other traffic-calming elements would be an enhancement to the community.”
In a letter sent to residents last month, however, Roseman indicated that he would work with designers and the community to “minimize loss of parking,” which has been the residents’ main objection to the roundabouts.
City staff said that each roundabout generally requires the elimination of 30 feet of parking on four legs of an intersection, equivalent to the loss of about 16 parking spaces per roundabout.
John Deats, who lives directly in front of where the roundabout is being proposed at Pacific Avenue, 36th Street and Country Club Drive, told the City Council that all residents at the intersection are opposed to the plan and many of them are “retirees” who would have to be impeded by the loss of residential parking.
Some residents said the structures would change the “character” of the neighborhood’s wide streets.
Bill Kessler, who also lives at the intersection, said the proposal would “exacerbate an already bad parking situation,” since parking on Pacific Avenue is already restricted due to the Blue Line. He added that the current design would also require vehicles to make “abnormal” turns to get around the roundabout.
Tom Lafortune, another Los Cerritos resident, said the roundabouts are not something that residents want. “We resent this being pushed upon us,” he said.
Still, Roseman said that the City’s main concern is “safety,” adding that the roundabouts are being designed to create a safer passage for “vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.”
The nearly $1-million Pacific Avenue Bike Corridor project is being funded mostly through state grants through the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is part of several projects moving forward to develop a newly integrated bike-infrastructure system that would include new bike boulevards, “sharrows” and other street alterations.
The project is currently in the final design phase and construction is expected to begin in early 2014.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, roundabouts are intersections in which entering vehicles must yield to traffic already in the circle. For traffic circles, however, incoming traffic is controlled by stop signs or traffic signals, or it is not controlled at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *