In the 1980s, Johnny Carson asked Bette Davis for advice on “the best way an aspiring starlet could get into Hollywood.” Davis famously replied, “Take Fountain!
These days, however, residents along Fountain Avenue in West Hollywood are saying “whoa!”
A number of those residents showed up last night at a meeting organized by West Hollywood City Councilmember John D’Amico to discuss their issues with pedestrian safety and traffic on Fountain.
The meeting was inspired in part by the recent death of Enrique Lopez, who died after being hit by a car on Sept. 1 while walking across Fountain near Formosa Avenue. There have been other incidents that concerned residents, including car crashes that damaged the yards of homes along Fountain and damaged cars parked along the avenue. A mother who lives at Alta Vista and Fountain noted that her 14-year-old son was hit by a car. Capt. Sergio Aloma, who heads the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, said there have been 14 accidents involving injuries on Fountain in the past 12 months and deputies have issued 74 citations to drivers.
Core issues raised by speakers included:
— The need for more police presence on Fountain, which likely would intimidate drivers prone to speeding. Currently the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station has two deputies dedicated to traffic safety on each shift. After last night’s meeting, Capt. Aloma said he is considering beefing up its presence on Fountain. Aloma noted that all deputies on patrol are authorized to stop and ticket speeding drivers.
— The need for more stoplights and designated crosswalks on Fountain, which would allow pedestrians to cross the street more safely. There currently are 12 stoplights on the 1.8 mile stretch of Fountain between La Cienega Boulevard and La Brea Avenue and one crosswalk with no traffic signal. City transportation planner Bob Cheung said that an increase in traffic lights is likely to divert traffic down residential streets. Residents also suggested better street lighting.
— The fact that many drivers consider Fountain a thoroughfare, using it, for example, to avoid traffic on Santa Monica or Sunset boulevards when driving east toward Silver Lake or to connect to the 101 freeway. Residents at the meeting say they consider Fountain to be a residential street.
However, the volume of traffic on Fountain and the fact that it has four lanes (with two taken by parking in certain stretches except at rush hour) means it is considered a “collector street” rather than a residential street according to Hany Demitri, WeHo’s city engineer. Los Angeles, a block east of La Brea, also considers Fountain a collector street, which is defined as a low-to-moderate-capacity road that serves to move traffic from local streets to arterial roads.
Another issue raised is the lack of left turn lanes (there is only one), which causes cars to dart back and forth across lanes as they pass a vehicle stopped to turn left.
Residents also complained about the noise from the traffic, including loud sounds from motorcycles. And some noted that the sidewalks on Fountain are narrow and not especially pedestrian-friendly. The sidewalk on the north side of Fountain from Fairfax Avenue east is located within the Los Angeles city limits while the street itself and its southern sidewalk is within West Hollywood.
While some residents said they want a stop light at Fountain and Formosa “immediately,” D’Amico noted that the process is complex and could take a year given that it requires measurement of traffic flow, requests for bids from contractors and a somewhat complex installation process. Short-term solutions, such as lighted trailers that indicate to the driver how fast he or she is going might be possible said Oscar Delgado, the city’s Public Works director.
In addition to stepping up traffic patrols on Fountain, Lt. Jodi Hutak, the station’s operations lieutenant, said they are considering working with the L.A. Police Department’s West Traffic Bureau to conduct a joint operation on Fountain during busy traffic hours and installing a mobile speed trailer, which is a device parked on the side of the road that alerts drivers whether they are exceeding the speed limit.
City staffers noted that pedestrian and bicycle safety issues on Fountain are part of a detailed mobility plan that will go before the City Council at its meeting on Monday.
The pedestrian and bicycle mobility plan speaks to most of the issues raised by residents last night and also notes the complexity of addressing them. “Along Fountain Avenue, sidewalks are very narrow, with many obstructions and buildings built to the property line,” it says, also noting that utility poles and sloping driveways make it more difficult to walk or ride bikes on those sidewalks. From Sweetzer Avenue to La Brea, Fountain has bike “sharrows,” narrow painted lanes on the road dedicated to bicycle traffic.
Improvements proposed by the plan at each intersection on Fountain are on the pages that follow. Note “continental crosswalks” referenced on the pages that follow mean a crosswalk with a series of painted bars across the street that are parallel to one another and to the sidewalks on either side. References to “RRFB”s are to rectangular rapid flashing beacons, or flashing lights that call out crosswalks to drivers.
Page 2 Alta Vista Boulevard
Page3 Crescent Heights Boulevard
Page 4 Curson Avenue
Page 5 De Longpre Avenue
Page 6 Detroit Street
Page 7 Fairfax Avenue
Page 8 Flores Street
Page 9 Formosa Avenue
Page 10 Fuller Avenue North of Fountain
Page 11 Fuller Avenue South of Fountain
Page 12 Gardner Street
Page 13 Genessee Avenue
Page 14 Hacienda Place
Page 15 Harper Avenue
Page 16 Havenhurst Drive
Page 17 Hayworth Avenue
Page 18 Kings Road
Page 19 La Brea Avenue
Page 20 La Cienega Boulevard
Page 21 Laurel Avenue
Page 22 Martel Avenue
Page 23 Ogden Drive
Page 24 Olive Drive
Page 25 Orange Grove Avenue
Page 26 Poinsettia Place North of Fountain
Page 27 Poinsettia Place South of Fountain
Page 28 Sierra Bonita Avenue
Page 29 Spaulding Avenue North of Fountain
Page 30 Spaulding Avenue South of Fountain
Page 31 Stanley Avenue
Page 32 Vista Street