UPDATE: LB City Council approves funds to improve bike lane and parking lots

City may also evaluate erasing red curbs to allow more street parking in the future.

Image+from+Long+Beach%E2%80%99s+2017+Bicycle+Master+Plan+showing+projected+bike+%E2%80%9Cbackbones%E2%80%9D+traversing+the+city+by+2040.

Courtesy City of Long Beach

Image from Long Beach’s 2017 Bicycle Master Plan showing projected bike “backbones” traversing the city by 2040.

Bike lanes, parking lots and increasing street parking are all on the Long Beach City Council’s radar.

At its Jan. 7 meeting, the council agreed to allocate funds toward a “backbone” bikeway along Orange Avenue. It also approved additional funds to upgrade city parking lots.

At a future date, the council may consider hiring a consultant to evaluate if any red-painted curbs designated for emergency vehicles can instead be used for street parking.

Bikeway
During its meeting Tuesday, the City Council approved allocating $127,000 toward a preliminary assessment of an 8.3-mile bikeway along Orange Avenue.

As part of the City’s 2017 Bicycle Master Plan, the Orange Avenue Backbone Bikeway and Complete Streets project will connect North Long Beach to Downtown via a dedicated bikeway with protected intersections, curb extensions, bus islands and improved lighting.

The approximately $13.4-million project is expected to be completed by 2023.

The council had approved receiving $127,000 from the California Transportation Commission (CTC) last August for a preliminary assessment of the project, including producing environmental documents, but approved commencing that work at Tuesday’s meeting.

The City will also receive $20,000 from Los Angeles County Measure R funds to cover the $147,000 total cost of assessment and environmental documents, according to a memo from Craig Beck, director of public works.

Beck also said that the CTC will likely fully fund the project in increments over its development phases through the CTC’s Active Transportation Program.

The planned Orange Avenue bikeway backbone is only part of the Bicycle Master Plan’s larger scheme of making Long Beach a “platinum-level” biking city by 2040. The plan adds 200 miles of bikeways designed for people of all ages.

“These projects are referred to as ‘8-to-80’ bikeways– meaning that the bicycle facility is designed so that anyone between the ages of 8 and 80 years old can ride bicycles easily and comfortably,” the plan states. “These re-envisioned streets will connect seamlessly, providing high quality connections for the bicycling public from Hamilton to Belmont Shore and Carson Park to The Pike– and everywhere in between.”

Parking lots
The council also agreed to increase its contracted payment to LAZ Parking California, LLC, by $1.17 million, for a total three-year contract of $15.1 million, for parking-lot management.

The total amount includes staffing, managing access and pay equipment, monthly permit programs and maintenance of municipal parking lots and structures.

Beck said in his staff report that the additional amount supports improving several of the city’s lots, including replacing individual parking-meter spaces with multi-space pay stations at the Bayshore Beach lot and the intersection of Broadway and Third Street.

The funds will also go toward installing 33 multi-space pay stations along Fourth Street. The City had faced some pushback over its parking policy for that area last November, as reported in the Press Telegram.

The additional amount will also be used to upgrade lighting, pay stations and landscaping in the Civic Center and City Place parking structures, according to Beck’s report.

Red curbs
Addressing another parking-related issue, Beck responded to an Oct. 1, 2019 council recommendation to consider reducing the number of red-curbed areas designated for emergency vehicles in order to increase on-street parking.

That recommendation was spearheaded by Councilmembers Suzie Price, Jeannine Pearce, Daryl Supernaw and Dee Andrews, who cited parking concerns by residents in their districts.

“Throughout the City, there are curbs that are painted red near intersections, driveways, alley exits or other infrastructure to indicate that parking is not allowed,” the councilmembers stated in a joint memo to the mayor and council. “Reducing red curbs could be appropriate in situations like four-way stops, or where traffic speeds are lower, or where view corridors would not be obstructed by a parked car.”

Councilmembers also expressed support for the recommendation during the October meeting, even if it resulted in only a few additional parking spaces.

“I know that where we have a parking-impacted neighborhood, being able to get an additional spot or two on a street makes a huge difference for the business corridors and the multi-family residences,” Price said.

Corliss Lee, president of local activist group Eastside Voice, expressed her concern that if red curbs are removed from corners, it would impact drivers’ line-of-sight and suggested instead that the City require new-building developers to add parking spaces and structures as well. She also lamented the lack of public transport.

“We won’t be able to cut back on cars, so we need parking,” she said. “The real answer is not [reducing] red curbs; it’s making sure that we require [additional parking] in our zoning.”

The council nevertheless recommended that city staff proceed with auditing red curbs, including any safety or traffic impacts from removing them.

However, Beck said in his Dec. 30, 2019 memo to the council that the size of the evaluation area and limited available staff would warrant hiring a consultant for $170,000 to perform the work.

He also said that managing the consultant would stretch staff hours beyond his department’s budget and impact the council’s other priorities.

“The funding source for this effort is currently unknown,” Beck stated. “If directed to proceed by the City Council, a funding source will need to be identified. At that point, staff will further develop the scope of the work, solicit proposals and procure a consultant to begin the evaluation.”